AN ALGERIAN pilot living in Britain was accused of training the September 11 hijackers when there was ?not a shred of evidence against him?, the High Court was told yesterday.

The false allegations against Lotfi Raissi were ?talked up? by Crown Prosecution Service lawyers in order to keep him in jail for five months after his arrest in September 2001.

Mr Raissi, 32, was released eventually in February 2002 when a judge ruled that there was no evidence to suggest he was connected to 9/11 or any form of terrorism.

He is asking the High Court to reverse a decision by the Home Secretary to refuse to compensate him under a scheme to offer redress to victims of miscarriages of justice. If he succeeds, Mr Raissi is likely to lodge a claim for damages for the loss of his career as an airline pilot.

The Home Office contends, however, that the scheme was established to make payments to people wronged by the British courts and police, and that because Mr Raissi was held under an American extradition warrant he did not qualify.

Edward Fitzgerald, QC, for Mr Raissi, said the case came under the umbrella of the scheme because it was exceptional. He said: ?To say that there is nothing exceptional about being accused of the worst imaginable crime is plainly irrational.? His client was held in Belmarsh high security prison and suffered ?damage to reputation, loss of liberty, distress and pyschiatric injury?.

Mr Raissi qualified for compensation and miscarriage of justice because the case had involved British police, prosecutors and courts and was not solely controlled by the US authorities, he said. ?In the course of a series of bail applications, in order to achieve a remand in custody, it was stated repeatedly that he had trained the pilots responsible for the September 11 hijackings and the attacks on New York and Washington, he added.

?These allegations have been shown to be completely without foundation.?

The case, being heard by Lord Justice Auld and Mr Justice Wilkie, continues today.
 
 

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