THREE men accused of helping to plan the 2005 London bombings have been acquitted of playing any role in the plot, a blow to investigators’ hopes of convicting anyone over the worst attack on Britain since World War II.
A jury at Kingston Crown Court found Waheed Ali, 25, Sadeer Saleem, 28, and Mohammed Shakil, 32, not guilty of conspiring to cause explosions.
They were accused of working with four suicide bombers who attacked three trains on the London underground and a bus on July 7, 2005, killing 52 passengers and themselves.
Prosecutors had alleged the men took part in a test run for the attacks in December 2004, when they joined three of the bombers in London.
The group visited tube stations and tourist spots, such as the London Eye and the Natural History Museum, prosecutors said.
But the jury rejected claims the men were involved. It was the second time they had been tried. A different jury failed to reach verdicts in August.
Ali and Shakil were convicted yesterday of a lesser charge of conspiring to attend a terrorist training camp. They will be sentenced today.
Legal experts said the outcome has highlighted concerns about how Britain prosecutes alleged terrorists, following other acquittals in major trials.
Prosecutors must tackle increasing public scepticism about the extent of the terrorist threat to Britain, fuelled by the failures of recent police raids against Muslim communities to result in charges.
“Many of these cases take months, and juries get to know and like the defendants,” said human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson, who was not involved in the latest case.
“They begin to think they’re not so bad and they doubt the strength of the evidence against them.”
Jordanian neurologist Mohammed Asha was cleared last December of involvement in botched car bomb attacks on Glasgow and London in 2007.
Last October, the trial of people alleged to have plotted to bring down airliners bound from Britain to the US also collapsed.
Shakil, Ali and Saleem, who were friends of the four suicide bombers, are the only people tried in connection with the attacks. Police said their inquiry is continuing but say their work has been hindered by the reluctance of witnesses in Muslim communities to come forward.
Jacqui Putnam, who was injured in the blast in a tube train at London’s Edgware Road station, said the failure to bring anyone to justice has left survivors frustrated.
“It was painful to follow the trial, and it is equally painful to be here, nearly four years after 7/7 and still have so many unanswered questions,” Putnam said after the verdict.
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