Two Palestinians jailed in Britain over the bombing of the Israeli embassy in London six years ago began their appeal Tuesday, claiming British officials were covering up the truth behind the case.
Lawyers for Jawad Botmeh and Samar Alami accused the Home Office and state Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) of wrongly throwing a blanket of secrecy over intelligence information, that could clear the couple.
Botmeh, 31, and Alami, 33, were sentenced to 20 years in December 1996 for conspiracy to cause explosions.
It followed two car bombs, which, in 1994, had rocked the Israeli embassy in west London and the offices of a Jewish charity in the north of the capital.
No one was killed, but around 20 people were injured.
The pair were said to have been part of a British-based extremist terrorist cell which planned to sabotage the Middle East peace process.
Botmeh and Alami admitted experimenting in an amateurish way with a type of explosive and failed to produce an alibi for the day in question.
Moreover, the car which carried the embassy bomb was linked to Botmeh.
But they denied involvement in the bombings or any terrorist organization, and say they were duped by another man who has yet to be identified.
Their lawyer, Michael Mansfield, told the High Court here that revelations by renegade British spy David Shayler had triggered requests by the couple for answers to outstanding questions.
However, Home Secretary Jack Straw, citing national security, signed public interest immunity certificates last year to ban any such disclosures.
Shayler has claimed that British intelligence was warned that an attack on the embassy was imminent, but nothing was done. He also referred to suspicions that the Israelis themselves carried out the bombings to provoke Britain into tightening its security.
Defense lawyers argue that Shayler's claims could be the tip of the iceberg of possibly valuable information which ought to be disclosed in the interests of justice.
Mansfield said the London bombings occurred against a background of similar attacks on Jewish targets elsewhere in the world.
Attempts to discover what the British intelligence agencies knew about what organizations were behind those atrocities got nowhere, he said.
The role played by Israeli government agents in examining the scene of the London embassy blast also remained a mystery.
"Somebody undoubtedly did come from Israel and for some reason nobody knows who they were or what they took away from the (embassy bombing) scene or what they did with the material or what conclusions they came to," he added.
Nor was there any evidence to suggest Botmeh or Alami drove the cars which contained the bombs, Mansfield said.
"Whoever did this plainly had resources and was sufficiently sophisticated to get a car that close to the Israeli embassy, a known potential target then as it is to this day." – LONDON (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)