by MONITOR
THIS week's decision by the Court of Appeal to set free five young Muslims convicted under the Terrorism Act of 2000 casts doubt over several trials in process and preparation in Britain and may also lead some other Muslims serving prison sentences to appeal. The five - four students at Bradford University and a schoolboy aged 17 who left home and joined them there - were convicted of being in possession of “extremist “ literature which the judge at their trial said had “intoxicated” them and led them to “cross the line” and plan to train in Pakistan and fight in Afghanistan. The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, and his fellow Appeal Court judges, were scathing in their criticism of the original conviction. They said that the prosecution's case was so weak that it should not have been put to a jury. The 2000 Terrorism Act makes it an offence to have books or items useful for a terrorist, but the Appeal Court ruled that there must be “a direct connection between the object possessed and the act of terrorism”. No such connection, such as evidence that the five were planning to make explosive devices, was shown by the prosecution in this case. All five men had copies of a pamphlet called Join The Caravan which served as a rallying call for the fight against the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan in the 1990s; at the time it had been translated into English and widely circulated.