Al Qaeda suspect convicted in UK poison plot

[JURIST] A British court Wednesday convicted suspected al Qaeda operative Kamel Bourgass of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance by the use of poisons and/or explosives to cause disruption, fear or injury in a plot to spread ricin [BBC News backgrouder] and other poisons in Britain. British authorities suspect that Bourgass' work was part of a larger plan to coordinate chemical and biological attacks across Europe. Bourgass, who is already serving a life sentence for the murder of a British constable during a 2003 raid on his London flat, was not convicted of conspiracy to commit murder. Four other men implicated in the plot were cleared of conspiracy charges last week and charges have been dropped against another group of men, scheduled to face trial next week. The Metropolitan Police provides details of the evidence against Bourgass [MPS press release]. BBC News has more.

5:00 PM ET - Justice Penry-Davey, the judge who presided over Bourgass' trial, criticized former home secretary David Blunkett Wednesday for an inappropriate remark Blunkett made during a BBC interview. In 2002, Blunkett told the BBC that terrorists were planning to set up a cell which threatened the UK. In pre-trial motions, Bourgass' defense lawyer argued that the remark jeopardized the trial, and although the judge refused to abort the trial, he said the comment "was clearly in breach of the presumption of innocence." According to Bourgass' lawyer, the government leaked a story about a threatened sarin gas attack, which it knew to be false. Officials then responded to journalists' questions about the threatened attack by telling them that three people, including Bourgass, had been charged under the Terrorism Act, in order to give the impression that they were charged in relation to the sarin plot. The UK Press Association has more.

 

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