Page last updated at 16:02 GMT, Friday, 21 November 2008

Car bomb accused 'is a pacifist'

Dr Mohammed Asha
The case against Dr Asha was pure speculation, his barrister said

An NHS neurologist accused of masterminding a car bomb campaign is a dedicated pacifist, a court has heard.

Dr Mohammed Asha would not get involved in terrorism "in a million years", his barrister Stephen Kamlish QC said.

Dr Asha, 28, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, is accused of providing advice and cash for a plot to detonate car bombs at Glasgow Airport and in London.

Together with Dr Bilal Abdulla, 29, from Paisley, he denies conspiracies to murder and to cause explosions.

Dr Abdulla was the passenger in a Jeep, driven by engineering student Kafeel Ahmed, 28, which crashed into a terminal building at the airport in June last year.

The car was laden with petrol and gas canisters and Ahmed later died from burns sustained during the incident.

Opening Dr Asha's defence, Mr Kamlish said his client was a completely different man to Dr Abdulla, who has admitted trying to scare people through the attempted bombings but denies any attempts to harm.

I love the country here, I love the way people treat each other here, especially medical training
Mohammed Asha

Mr Kamlish told Woolwich Crown Court that Dr Asha was a professional, academic and peaceful man who had dedicated his life to medicine.

He said: "This is the man you are trying, he is a pacifist, he is a decent man and he is a man dedicated in an extreme way.

"There is the irony, Bilal Abdulla, an extremist, describes Mohammed Asha's dedication to medicine as extreme, and that is why he is not guilty."

Mr Kamlish described the prosecution case against his client as "pure speculation" and said there was no evidence pointing to his guilt.

When speaking in his defence, Dr Asha said nothing would make him "jeopardise my family or my wife for anything in the world".

Medical career

The court heard that Dr Asha had completed a six-year medical degree at the University of Jordan, before undertaking a placement at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, where he met co-defendant Dr Abdulla in January 2005.

Dr Asha met Dr Abdulla through a friend and the men studied and ate together several times, the court heard.

Dr Abdulla then introduced Dr Asha to Indian engineering student Kafeel Ahmed, who died after ramming a car into Glasgow Airport.

As a junior doctor, Dr Asha went on to work briefly at Llanelli's Prince Philip Hospital before travelling to the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital for a two-year placement.

The court was told that, at the time of his arrest last June, Dr Asha was a highly-respected member of staff in the neurology ward at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire.

The doctor added: "I already had the blueprint of my future before I came here but in my experience here I really accepted the greatness of the health system in this country.

Improved English

"I know people have complaints about the NHS but, take it from me, it is a great system.

"I love the country here, I love the way people treat each other here, especially medical training."

Dr Asha also revealed his English has improved while on remand in Belmarsh Prison.

He said: "It is definitely better than when I was arrested; funnily enough, this traumatic experience has some advantages.

"One of them was being in an English-speaking environment, only English, so I have been able to practise my English in prison."

The trial continues on Monday.

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