UK seeks to extend pre-charge detention beyond 28 days
IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency
London, Feb 1, IRNA
The British government is to make a fresh attempt to further extend the maximum period that terror suspects can be detained without charge, Prime Minister Tony Blair's spokesman announced Thursday.
The spokesman said that Home Secretary John Reid told ministers at the latest weekly cabinet meeting he would try again to find a cross-party consensus on a longer detention period.
In 2005, the government gained parliamentary approval to double pre-charge detention to 28 days after failing to win the backing of MPs to increase it to 90 days.
Reid was said to have told the cabinet that since changes extending the maximum detention period from 14 to 28 days were introduced there had not yet been a case in which a longer period of questioning was needed.
Police chiefs thought it was "right and proper" for the government to address the issue once more, the Home Secretary was quoted as saying.
The move to increase the maximum period suspects can be held without charge has proved highly contentious, with Blair losing his first defeat in the House of Commons 15 months ago by 322 votes to 291, with 49 back bench Labor MPs rebelling.
Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil rights group Liberty, has again warned any extension would be "dangerous" as it would become a tool for terrorist recruiting sergeants.
"We would urge the government to think again and very seriously before taking such a dangerous step. It will add to the sense of injustice and resentment, providing terrorist recruiters with the ammunition they seek," Chakrabarti said.
The new bid comes after nine people were arrested by anti- terrorist police in Birmingham, central England, on Wednesday, over claims, reportedly made by security sources, that they planned to kidnap and execute a Muslim British soldier.
Last June, anti-terrorist police made a bungled raid on a family house in east London in which a Muslim youth was shot on what proved to be false intelligence about an alleged chemical weapons plant.
The latest arrests come at a time when Blair and his top aide have become more embroiled in an alleged 'cash-for-honors' scandal being investigated by police and when the Reid is under pressure over criticism about the competence of the Home Office.
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