UK doctor charged with photographers' kidnap in Syria goes free



LONDON- The case against a doctor accused of kidnapping a British photographer and his Dutch colleague in Syria last year was dropped at a London court on Monday.
Shajul Islam was due to stand trial alongside co-accused Jubair Chowdhury and his own brother Najul Islam, who was charged with assisting the kidnap.



They were alleged to be part of an extremist group that seized freelance photographers John Cantlie and Jeroen Oerlemans on July 17 last year near the Syrian border with Turkey. They were released nine days later.
Cantlie and Oerlemans, who were liberated after the rebel Free Syrian Army intervened, were both shot while they were being held hostage and required treatment for gunshot wounds.
But the Islam brothers and Chowdhury walked free from court after the prosecution offered no evidence.
Shajul, 27, denied unlawful imprisonment, which prosecutors had claimed he carried out as an act of terror.
The doctor, who completed his training at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London, was arrested in October last year as he returned to London's Heathrow Airport from Egypt.
His brother Najul Islam, 32, denied one count of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts.
He was accused of paying for the doctor to travel to Syria, along with Chowdhury.
It was alleged that Najul Islam paid for them to travel to Syria, knowing that they would "be engaging or be prepared to engage in acts of terrorism".
He was accused of paying for supplies including night vision goggles, air rifle optic mounts and medical equipment, and driving from Britain to Turkey to deliver them to his brother.
Prosecutors also claimed that Najul Islam sent money abroad to his sibling.
Chowdhury, 24, denied the one charge of unlawful imprisonment.
All three men have been in custody since they were arrested.
Prosecutor Mark Dennis told the court: "A problem arose for the prosecution which serves to frustrate the trial from the point of view of the prosecution."
Dennis said the prosecution had considered asking for the case to be adjourned or for the victims' evidence to be read as hearsay.
However, he said: "We have concluded that we cannot take either such course."
Judge Nicholas Price said: "I understand, and I formerly record verdicts of not guilty for each of the three defendants.
"So they therefore can be discharged."
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Tuesday, November 12th 2013
AFP
           


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