El Al plane bomb plotter could be freed early

London High Court rules that parole board to make final decision on Nazir Hindawi, who was jailed for 1986 plot.

April 20, 2011 05:15
2 minute read.
el al biz 88 298

el al biz 88 298. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

The British High Court has ordered a review of the case of a terrorist jailed in 1986 for plotting to blow up an El Al passenger plane, which could lead to his early release.

Overriding the current and previous governments – both of which have turned down requests for parole – the High Court has ordered the case of Nezar Hindawi to be referred to the Parole Board for review.

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Hindawi is a Jordanian found guilty by a British court of attempting to place a bomb on an El Al flight in April 1986, at London’s Heathrow Airport. The plane, carrying 375 passengers, was en route to Tel Aviv.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice, who requested anonymity, said on Wednesday that the result of the review would be binding.

“The Ministry of Justice will make this referral immediately,” the spokesman told The Jerusalem Post. “The Parole Board’s decision in this review will be binding on the Secretary of State.”

However, the Ministry of Justice spokesman said the Parole Board would not release anyone they believe represents a risk to the public.

“Parole Board panels do not direct the release of any prisoner until they are satisfied that they present an acceptable risk to the public,” the spokesman said.

According to court records, Hindawi planted the bomb in the luggage of his pregnant fiancée Anne Mary Murphy, an Irish national. She unknowingly took the explosives and was stopped by El Al security officials.

Hindawi told her he would marry her when she got to Israel.

Surrendering to police the following day, Hindawi was subsequently sentenced to 45 years in prison. Murphy later gave birth to their daughter, and the case prompted Britain to suspend diplomatic relations with Syria, which it accused of complicity in the plot.

Hindawi became eligible for early parole in 2001, having served one third of his sentence. His parole was rejected in 2003 by then-Home Minister David Blunkett, who refused to allow the Parole Board to review his term.

However, in January of 2004, the High Court ruled that Blunkett’s decision amounted to unlawful discrimination.

In 2009 the Parole Board recommended freeing him, but successive governments have turned down his bid for parole.

Under normal circumstances, Hindawi would be released in 2016.

The government says Hindawi is a Syrian national, and will be deported when he is released. At his trial he was identified as Jordanian.

The Israeli Embassy in London is unfazed by the reports.

“We expect that one of the finest justice systems will have no trouble with any attempt to downplay the severity of a man sending his pregnant fiancée aboard a flight to kill 375 innocent passengers,” an embassy spokesman said.

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