Page last updated at 21:29 GMT, Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Police chief demands raid inquiry

Babar Ahmad's injuries
Babar Ahmad said he had been beaten and dragged by handcuffs

The head of the Metropolitan Police has ordered an inquiry into why officers who arrested a terror suspect refused to give evidence at an abuse hearing.

Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson's force has agreed to pay 60,000 damages to IT worker Babar Ahmad, 34.

The High Court heard arresting officers subjected Mr Ahmad to violent assaults and religious taunts during the raid in Tooting, south-west London, in 2003.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is to investigate.

Mr Ahmad's family claims a cover-up has protected the officers involved.

Scotland Yard said in a statement: "The Commissioner has demanded an immediate investigation into the circumstances surrounding the officers refusing to give evidence relating to this arrest in 2003.

"Whilst this arrest and subsequent events are historic this is a serious matter which has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)."

'Humiliate and debase'

In 2007 an IPCC investigation concluded his claims were "unsubstantiated".

Mr Ahmad is now in jail awaiting extradition to the US on separate charges.

He was never charged following the raid.

Mr Justice Holroyde heard that one of the unnamed officers allegedly involved will face criminal proceedings.

Phillippa Kaufmann, counsel for Mr Ahmad, told the court he had been dragged by handcuffs and held by the neck.

It was also claimed that he was forced into a kneeling Muslim prayer position and asked: "Where is your God now?"

She added his treatment at the hands of Territorial Support Group officers was intended to humiliate and debase him and make him fear for his life.

Previously, the force had denied that Mr Ahmad had been punched, stamped on, grabbed and pulled by the testicles and repeatedly kneed in the police van.

Babar Ahmad
This abuse took place not in Guantanamo Bay or a secret torture chamber but in Tooting
Statement on behalf of Babar Ahmad

The court heard that one officer told him as he was being beaten in the police van: "You'll remember this day for the rest of your life."

A spokesman for the Met Police said: "The police are duty-bound to act on information that identifies a real and serious terrorism threat to the safety of the public and it is a regrettable consequence of such operations that force may need to be used.

"However, we recognise any use of force must be proportionate and reasonable."

Mr Ahmad was in court to hear lawyers for Sir Paul agree to the pay-out.

Previously, he had followed proceedings by videolink from Long Lartin prison, Worcestershire.

He had been due to give evidence on Wednesday.

Extradition fight

Mr Ahmad's wife Maryam said she was "delighted" at the pay-out decision, which she said was the result of a "long and hard-fought campaign".

In a statement, Mr Ahmad's family claimed he was so badly injured after his release from police custody that "we could not even embrace him".

The alleged taunt, "Where is your God now?" was an attack "on every single Muslim in the world", they said.

BARBAR AHMAD: TIMELINE
Dec 2003: Arrested under anti-terror laws and released without charge
Jul 2004: Assault claims passed to Crown Prosecution Service
Aug 2004: Arrested under anti-terror laws
Oct 2004: Charged with terror crimes by US court
May 2005: British judge rules he can be extradited to US
Jul 2006: Challenges extradition
Nov 2006: Loses extradition challenge
Feb 2007: Abuse claims rejected by IPCC
Mar 2009: Sues Met Police for assault

Mr Ahmad's brother-in-law, Fahad Ahmad, read out a statement on his relative's behalf in which he said he intended to concentrate on fighting his extradition.

The statement said: "This abuse took place not in Guantanamo Bay or a secret torture chamber but in Tooting, south London.

"I would like to thank my family and all who have supported me and my campaign for justice, particularly my legal team who have spent many years fighting for me."

The Islamic Human Rights Commission claimed there had been a "systematic failure" of the authorities to carry out "their functions without bias".

Mr Ahmad is separately accused of raising money to support terrorism in Chechnya and Afghanistan via websites and e-mails.

US investigators claim he was behind the website azzam.com which was one of the most well-known terrorist fundraising sites on the internet at one point.

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