British court restricts government curfew powers over terror suspects

Britain's Law Lords cut the scope of the government's contentious system of holding terrorist suspects under partial house arrest Wednesday, but stopped short of branding the practice unlawful. Reviewing cases of 10 suspects placed under the orders, including at least two who are on the run, Britain's highest court said the government must no longer hold suspects under 18-hour home curfews. But, in a blow to opponents of the system, the Lords ruled that shorter curfews were lawful. Under the program, suspects who have not been charged with a criminal offense are released from custody but remain under police observation and can be electronically tagged, kept under curfew, denied the use of telephones or the Internet, and barred from meeting outsiders. Prime Minister Gordon Brown and ministers have acknowledged the control order system is imperfect and have pledged to examine alternatives.