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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 January, 2004, 07:49 GMT
Killer freed after sentence 'cut'
A man sentenced to life for the political murder of an Indian diplomat is due to be released on Wednesday after a High Court judge reconsidered the minimum period he must spend in prison.

Solicitors for Mohamed Riaz said he was "delighted" by the judge's decision to adopt a 16-year tariff - even though the prisoner has served almost all of the 20-year minimum sentence originally imposed.

The case is believed to be the first re-setting of a lifer's tariff under Government legislation introduced last year.

Riaz, then aged 22, was convicted of the murder of Ravindra Mahtre, Deputy High Commissioner for the Indian High Commission in Birmingham, in 1984.

Political prisoners

He was one of a group of men who kidnapped 48-year-old Mr Mahtre and demanded the release of Kashmiri political prisoners.

Mr Mahtre was killed by his captors after two days.

In 1988, the then Home Secretary set a minimum period of 20 years before Diaz could be considered for release on parole.

The trial judge had suggested 10 years and Lord Lane, the then Lord Chief Justice, 16 years.

It is important that he has received recognition of the unfairness he has suffered over the years
Simon Creighton
Mohamed Riaz's solicitor

The 20-year tariff was later reviewed three times by the Home Office and upheld on each occasion.

On Monday, Mr Justice Hooper spoke of his difficulties in applying the new legislation for calculating tariffs, following a European Court ruling that the Home Secretary can no longer set minimum sentences.

The judge said he found the new rules "very difficult if not impossible to apply".

He indicated he was inclined to agree with the assessment of the case made by Lord Lane, who had recommended a 16-year sentence.

Later, Mr Riaz's solicitor, Simon Creighton said he expected his client, who has already been recommended for release by the Parole Board, would be released later this week.

He said: "My client is delighted by the decision that has been given today.

"Although the practical effect for him is somewhat limited by the fact that he has nearly served the 20-year period previously set, it is important that he has received recognition of the unfairness he has suffered over the years."


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