Failed 21/7 London bombers lose European court appeal

Clockwise from top left: Ismail Abdulrahman, Muktar Said Ibrahim, Yassin Omar, Ramzi Mohammed
Image caption Judges said police were justified in delaying access to lawyers for Ismail Abdulrahman, Muktar Said Ibrahim, Yassin Omar and Ramzi Mohammed (clockwise from top left)

Four men jailed over a failed plot to bomb the London transport network on 21 July 2005 have lost an appeal at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

Three of the men claimed their human rights had been breached because statements they made to police without lawyers present had been used as evidence.

A fourth man argued he had been treated unfairly when interviewed as a witness.

The court ruled no prejudice had been caused to their right to a fair trial.

Three of the men were convicted in 2007 over a botched attempt to repeat the attacks in London of 7 July 2005.

Ramzi Mohammed, Muktar Said Ibrahim and Yassin Omar were found guilty of conspiracy to murder and sentenced to minimum terms of 40 years' imprisonment.

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Muktar Said Ibrahim was captured on CCTV on board a bus

A fourth defendant, Ismail Abdulrahman, was convicted in 2008 of assisting one of the failed bombers and failing to disclose information about the planned attacks. He was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment, which was reduced to eight years on appeal.

Judges at the ECHR said: "It has been convincingly established that at the time of the impugned police interviews there was an exceptionally serious and imminent threat to public safety, and that this threat provided compelling reasons which justified the temporary delay of all four applicants' access to lawyers."

Abdulrahman had argued that he should have been arrested and offered access to a lawyer when he began incriminating himself in an interview as a witness.

The court said the decision not to arrest him at this stage was not unreasonable "based on the fear that a formal arrest might lead him to stop disclosing information of the utmost relevance to public safety issues".

It also said the interviews in question were "far from being the only incriminating evidence".


The failed bombers had targeted three Tube trains and a bus - in an attempted repeat of the 7/7 attack - but their devices failed to explode.

Because the bombs did not explode, police were able to recover forensic material from the scenes of the attacks. CCTV images of the bombers were also available.

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Unexploded bomb-making material was left on the floor of a Tube carriage

A huge manhunt followed, with the men named and pictures published. Within eight days, two of the bombers were arrested in London, one in Birmingham and another - Hussein Osman, who was also convicted but was not part of the ECHR case - in Rome.

The judge at the men's trial, Mr Justice Fulford, described the plot as a "viable attempt at mass murder".

He said the failed attacks were inspired by militant Islamist group al-Qaeda and were clearly connected with the bombings that had killed 52 people in London two weeks earlier.

"If the detonators had been slightly more powerful or the hydrogen peroxide slightly more concentrated, then each bomb would have exploded," he said.

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