Britain seeks retrial over bomb plot
LONDON (Reuters) - Prosecutors said on Wednesday they would seek a retrial in the case of seven men accused of plotting to smuggle liquid explosives on to transatlantic airlines and blow them up midflight.
The move comes after a jury was unable to agree to convict the seven on the most serious of the charges made against them after a five-month trial that ended on Monday.
After 56 hours of deliberation, the jury found three of the men guilty of a lesser charge of conspiring to kill using liquid explosives. It was not convinced by the prosecution's case that they intended to blow up aircraft from London's Heathrow airport to Canada and the United States.
The jury failed to reach a verdict on the four other suspects, and acquitted an eighth suspect on all charges. The eighth man cannot be re-tried.
"I have today concluded that the prosecution should apply to retry each of these defendants on every count that the recently discharged jury failed to agree on," Ken Macdonald, the director of public prosecutions, said in a statement.
"This will include a count that each defendant conspired to detonate improvised explosive devices on transatlantic passenger aircraft."
A court hearing will be held to decide whether a retrial should be held.
Ahead of the initial trial, security services in Britain had described it as one of the deadliest and most intricate terrorist schemes hatched on British soil, and U.S. authorities had suggested it could have been as big as the September 11 attacks.
The plot was revealed in August 2006 and led to the immediate disruption of thousands of flights and a ban on passengers carrying liquids on to aircraft, a ban that is largely still in operation.
A memory stick owned by one of the suspects held detailed information about flights from Heathrow to U.S. and Canadian cities, most of them departing between August and October 2006.
The bombs would have been made from liquid explosives based on hydrogen peroxide mixed with an organic component such as tang, a substance used to make soft drinks, prosecutors said.
While the three who were convicted -- Abdulla Ahmed Ali, Assad Sarwar and Tanvir Hussain -- admitted planning to carry out an attack, they said it was intended merely to be a publicity stunt designed to draw attention to videos they had made denouncing British and U.S. foreign policy in Iraq.
They said they had never intended to attack aircraft.
While some of the men were waiting for new passports, the prosecution presented no evidence that a viable bomb had been made, no airline tickets had been bought and there was little to indicate that an attack was imminent.
As well as Ali, Sarwar and Hussain, all British born Muslims with Pakistani roots, the prosecution service said it would also seek a retrial of Ibrahim Savant, Arafat Waheed Khan, Waheed Zaman and Umar Islam, who is also known as Brian Young.
(Editing by Keith Weir)
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