EU violated rights of Al Qaeda suspects: Court

September 3rd, 2008 - 10:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Luxembourg, Sep 3 (DPA) Europe’s highest court Wednesday ruled that the European Union (EU) had violated the rights of two presumed Al Qaeda affiliates by freezing their assets without first informing them that they had been blacklisted as terror suspects.However, the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice acknowledged that the suspects could have avoided punishment if they had been warned in advance by the authorities.

It, therefore, agreed to maintain the asset freeze for “no more than three months” in order to give the EU time to “remedy the infringements found”.

The European Commission welcomed the fact that the court had upheld the EU’s right to adopt “targeted sanctions against individuals”.

Officials in Brussels said they would now work with EU governments to find a way of balancing the rights of defendants with the need to crack down on terror suspects.

“The Commission will work together with other (European) Community institutions to find a general framework on how to establish sufficient mechanisms, in which targeted persons can be heard and effective judicial review can be exercised by Community courts,” officials said in a statement.

Wednesday’s ruling was a response to a second court appeal by Yassin Abdullah Kadi, a Saudi Arabian businessman, and the Al Barakaat International Foundation in Sweden, whose names were added to the UN blacklist of terror suspects in 2001.

By failing “to inform Kadi and Al Barakaat of the evidence” justifying their inclusion in such a list, the plaintiffs were “unable to defend their rights in satisfactory conditions”, judges said in their ruling.

Though unlawful, the asset freeze should nevertheless be maintained for a limited period.

This is because “annulling the regulation with immediate effect” would have allowed the suspects to “take steps to prevent measures freezing funds from being applied to them again,” the judges ruled.

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