British inmates get life sentences for prison terror attack

Britain was on a high state of terrorism alert after a spate of attacks. (File: AFP)
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Updated 08 October 2020

British inmates get life sentences for prison terror attack

  • Two inmates in Britain wore fake suicide belts and shouted “Allahu Akbar”
  • The judge said the duo had been “inspired by extremist beliefs” and have a “twisted view of Islam”

LONDON: Two inmates in Britain convicted of trying to murder a prison officer in an Islamist terror attack behind bars earlier this year were on Thursday handed life sentences.
Brusthom Ziamani, 25, and Baz Macaulay Hockton, 26, wore fake suicide belts and shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is greater) as they launched the January attack at Whitemoor prison in eastern England.
The pair targeted officer Neil Trundle with makeshift bladed weapons and blows, and also injured another officer and a nurse who intervened in the maximum security facility.
The judge at London’s Old Bailey court hearing the case decided it had “a terrorist connection,” resulting in heavier sentences, London’s Metropolitan Police said.
Its counter-terrorism branch investigated the offenses, which are believed to be the first acts of terrorism in a British jail outside Northern Ireland.
“This was a calculated and horrific attack by two very dangerous prisoners who had one aim — to try and murder prison staff,” Richard Smith, head of the Met unit, said.
“Our investigation showed they were motivated to carry out this attack by their extreme ideology.”
Ziamani received a life sentence with a minimum term of 21 years for attempted murder, as well as two years for actual bodily harm against the nurse and four months for common assault against the other officer.
The terms will all run concurrently.
He is already five years into a 19-year sentence for a 2014 terror plot to behead a soldier inspired by the high-profile murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby.
Hockton, a Muslim convert who was radicalized in jail, got a minimum term of 23 years imprisonment for the attempted murder.
He also faces 10 years for another assault at a different prison in 2019, which will run concurrently.
Passing sentence, the judge said the duo had been “inspired by extremist beliefs” and that their “twisted view of Islam” must change before they are ever released.
There has been a sharp increase in prisoners convicted of terrorism-related offenses, sparking growing concerns that other inmates may become radicalized.
The government says it has trained around 20,000 staff in extremism awareness training, and employs multi-faith chaplaincy teams in all prisons.
It has also opened two so-called Separation Centers where individuals considered to pose the biggest risk are kept away from the main prison population.


Duterte: Hold me responsible for killings in Philippines’ drug crackdown

Updated 27 min 4 sec ago

Duterte: Hold me responsible for killings in Philippines’ drug crackdown

  • ‘If there’s killing there, I’m saying I’m the one ... you can hold me responsible for anything, any death that has occurred in the execution of the drug war’

MANILA: The Philippine president has said he accepts responsibility for the thousands of killings committed during police operations in his crackdown on drugs, adding that he was even ready to go to jail.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s televised remarks Monday night were typical of his bluster — and tempered by the fact that he has pulled his country out of the International Criminal Court, where a prosecutor is considering complaints related to the leader’s bloody campaign.
The remarks were also a clear acknowledgement that Duterte could face a deluge of criminal charges. Nearly 6,000 killings of drug suspects have been reported by police since he took office in mid-2016, but rights watchdogs suspect the death toll is far larger.
“If there’s killing there, I’m saying I’m the one ... you can hold me responsible for anything, any death that has occurred in the execution of the drug war,” Duterte said.
“If you get killed, it’s because I’m enraged by drugs,” said the president known for his coarse and boastful rhetoric. “If I serve my country by going to jail, gladly.”
He said, however, that drug killings that did not happen during police operations should not be blamed on him, alleging that those may have been committed by gangs.
Duterte has made a crackdown on drugs a centerpiece of his presidency. At the height of the campaign — which has often targeted petty dealers and users along with a handful of the biggest druglords — images of suspects sprawled dead and bloodied in the streets were frequently broadcast in TV news reports and splashed on the front pages of newspapers. Tens of thousands of arrests in the initial years of the crackdown worsened congestion in what were already among the world’s most overcrowded jails.
UN human rights experts and Western governments led by the United States have raised alarm over the killings, enraging Duterte, who once told former US President Barack Obama to “go to hell.”
There have been widespread suspicions that police engage in extrajudicial killings in the crackdown, allegations that they and Duterte deny. In 2018, a court convicted three police officers of murdering a 17-year-old student after witnesses and a security video disproved their claim that the suspect was shot after violently resisting, a common reason cited by police officers after drug suspects are killed.
At least two complaints for crimes against humanity and mass murder in connection with Duterte’s campaign are being examined by an ICC prosecutor, who will determine whether there is enough evidence to open a full-scale investigation.
When the complaints were made, Duterte withdrew the Philippines from the world tribunal two years ago in a move that human rights groups said was a major setback in the country’s battle against impunity. The ICC prosecutor has said the examination into the drug killings would continue despite the Philippine withdrawal.
Duterte reiterated his defiance of the court’s probe Monday by asking, when did “drugs become humanity?”
Instead, he framed the drug menace as a national security threat, as he has in the past, comparing it to the communist insurgency that the government has tried to quell for more than a half-century.
“If this is allowed to go on and on and if no decisive action is taken against them, it will endanger the security of the state,” said Duterte, a former government prosecutor.
“When you save your country from the perdition of the people like the NPAs and drugs, you are doing a sacred duty,” he said, referring to communist New People’s Army insurgents.
Police have reported at least 5,856 drug suspects have been killed in raids and more than 256,000 others arrested since the start of the crackdown. Human rights groups have accused authorities of considerably under reporting the deaths.