Earlier this week when the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) ruled that Algerian, Moulod Sihali, was not a threat to national security and that he faced the possibility of torture if he was returned to Algeria, jurors from his former trial were amongst those celebrating.
Moulod Sihali had been acquitted of charges in the ‘ricin trial’ in April 2005 with four other men. However, he was then placed under restrictive bail conditions – amounting to house arrest – as the government attempted to deport him as a supposed threat to national security. Three of the jurors in the ‘ricin trial’ welcomed the SIAC decision and released the following statement:
‘Today is a great day for Mouloud Sihali, his supporters and for justice. As a jury, we sat through an incredibly lengthy and expensive trial, assessed all the evidence and came back with a verdict of not guilty on all the charges levelled against Mouloud Sihali. After the trial, several of the jury were shocked when the government proposed the deportation of all the cleared defendants in the Ricin Trial back to Algeria, to face an unknown and potentially dangerous fate. However, we were absolutely appalled when Mouloud Sihali was re-arrested and thrown into jail, without any charges proffered against him. His treatment since his release from jail has angered and dismayed us; under a strict bail regime he has been robbed of his freedom, treated unfairly and held under draconian conditions that shame us as a nation. Only his immense inner strength, the support of his friends and, ultimately, the belief in his innocence has seen Mouloud through dark days of what amounts to psychological torture.
Although we do not approve of the SIAC system, with its shadowy policy of closed court sessions and secret evidence, which the defendant and even his lawyers are not allowed to see, we are grateful that Justice Mitting and his colleagues have reached a sensible conclusion. Mouloud Sihali is judged not to be a threat to national security; something that we jurors have always firmly believed.
We hope now that Mouloud Sihali can be left to live his life in peace and at last has the freedom to make a choice as to what he does with his future, without the damning label of “terrorist” or “threat to national security” hung around his neck.’