Page last updated at 12:27 GMT, Tuesday, 10 June 2008 13:27 UK

Terror trials 'too long for jury'

The five men convicted (clockwise: Omar Khyam, Salahuddin Amin, Waheed Mahmood, Anthony Garcia and Jawad Akbar)
Five men convicted of a bomb plot are appealing against their convictions

Jury trials in terrorist cases are under threat because they can take too long, president of the Queen's Bench Division, Sir Igor Judge, has said.

The jury system "simply cannot survive" if trials lasted 14 months, he said.

He was referring to the case of five men imprisoned for planning a terror attack using a giant fertiliser bomb.

The men are appealing against their convictions and sentence at the Court of Appeal, where Sir Igor, who is presiding, made his comments.

The judge, who is presiding over the appeal alongside Mr Justice Bean and Mrs Justice Dobbs, said the court would want to investigate "why this trial took as long as it did".

During the trial, 3,644 witness statements were taken and there were 105 prosecution witnesses.

Furthermore, the jury deliberated for 27 days, which was a record in British criminal history.

Omar Khyam, 25, Waheed Mahmood, 34, Jawad Akbar, 23, Salahuddin Amin, 31, and Anthony Garcia, 24, were all jailed for plotting to attack targets including the Ministry of Sound nightclub in London and the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent.

They were found guilty of conspiracy to cause explosions likely to endanger life, at the end of a lengthy Old Bailey trial last year.

Terror convictions

The men watched the proceedings at the Court of Appeal via video link from prison.

During their bid to have their convictions overturned as unsafe, legal representatives for the men are set to make submissions on 32 grounds of appeal.

Patrick O'Connor QC, representing Amin, gave an overview of the case, in which he said criticisms would be made relating to rulings made by Judge Sir Michael Astill and his "approach to various issues".

In addition to being found guilty of plotting a terror campaign, Khyam and Garcia were convicted of having 600kg (1,300lb) of ammonium nitrate fertiliser.

And Khyam was further found guilty of having aluminium powder for the explosives.

The men were arrested after the fertiliser was found stored in a warehouse in Hanwell, west London, in 2004.

Waheed Mahmood, Khyam, and Garcia were told by the trial judge that they would have to serve a minimum of 20 years in jail.

Akbar and Amin were told they would have to serve at least 17-and-a-half years.

The appeal hearing is expected to last four days.

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