I don't get this.
Times, Telegraph, Reuters, Guardian, Press Association, BBC,
OK I stand corrected. The BBC has a little bit about what happened today.
I turned up early to Belmarsh Magistrates court thankful (hopeful?) that it would be my last time as I really got to hate the place, the people, the whole fucking costume drama of it all except for a couple of prison officers, a couple of journalists and the cop on the tape machine. I realised it would get more painful when I saw the whole of Atilla's family, friends , family friends and their kids there including Atilla's elderly mother.
Paul, Atilla's solicitor came by and said that a German friend of the family and his brother Musa would be the only character witnesses they would call.
"Is David Farrell doing this?" I asked. "I am so sick of that mans voice.."
"Thats why we are not calling you.." said Paul.
Months and months ago now I spoke to Paul at BSB and we thought I might be a good character witness, being such an obvious kaffir who Atilla hadn't threatened to kill. Atilla's guilty plea changed things a bit. For whatever reason I was relieved that they didn't call me. They probably read all this and reconsidered. No matter. It's been good to stay below the radar as it were if only for the sake of objectivity.
I didn't realise Hamid was due for sentencing as well and was surprised to see his daughter. Yasser and Kemal turned up, the gallery which had only seen a few of us previously was full. Hamid came up smiling, with bright eyes, another big guy without a beard didn't. It took me a long while to realise this must be Atilla. No one had prepared me for the sight of Atilla without a beard. I really couldn't get the hang of it for a long time. Throughout the day whenever he got up I would look at his beardless chin. I felt like I was looking at his face with the beard crossed out.
David Farrell got up and summarised the case. The judge then spoke a bit, interpreting the verdict of the jury, as they had acquitted Hamid of a few charges. He spoke about the 21/7 bombers and said that Hamid's connection with their acts hadn't been sought or proved to any great extent. Joel Bennathan spoke about Hamid. I wish I could remember what he said, I can't. Atilla's QC spoke about the letters the judge had received including a long letter from Atilla himself. The Judge said he hadn't read them and adjourned for a tense twenty minutes.
When we came back Atilla's QC introduced their German family friend who said she had always known Atilla and didn't consider his views to be extreme. He then called Musa and asked him about Atilla's change of heart since his guilty plea and serving his sentence. Musa was very emotional and said that Atilla had only done security at Finsbury park and that he wasn't Hamza's right hand man. He wasn't knowledgeable about the Koran and had been pushed forward because he looked tough. He said his brother had been dazzled by his media image and always turned up with newspaper articles which he featured in. He had said stupid things. Musa himself had broken up Dan River's infamous interview, unhappy with what his brother was doing. He said he had advised his brother to give it all up and the family had plans to move to Cyprus. He said the Police knew this.
The QC again invited Musa to bear witness to Atilla's change of heart whilst inside. In the stand, defending his own blood he didn't notice and carried on saying that his brother would never commit an act of terrorism. It could be his own family on the tube or on a bus.
I turned to Yassar and whispered "He's not answering the question..."
The QC said a bit more about Atilla's custody having a positive effect. He said he was a broken man. It quickly became obvious that the judge was having none of it. He had read all the letters and translated what Atilla's QC was presenting as remorse as "unattractive self-pity." The QC asked for some sort of report to be done on Atilla's state of mind. The judge almost imperceptibly shook his head.
"What more do I need?" I think he seemed to be saying "I've been listening to this guy on tape for the last two months.."
I saw David Farrell smile.
The QC was floundering but spoke about another letter which he had only seen himself that morning. The judge said he would check his chamber over lunch to see whether it had fallen out of his files. The QC said it was the only copy.
Outside Paul tried to reassure everyone and said that if the letter wasn't located he would ask for an adjournment. We were all skeptical as it was pretty obvious that the judge didn't like Atilla from what he had heard on the tapes at all. A very nervous hour passed for the families bouyed somewhat by Musa's courageous sense of humor. I became aware that the letters "IPP" had been brought up in relation to Atilla and that this wasn't good. It meant that a person was Imprisoned for Public Protection, only to be released when the court decided they were no longer a threat.
We went back in. Atilla came in motioning with his finger across his own neck, obviously distraught. It was horrible watching his mother try to console him.
The judge had found the letter which turned out to be from none other than the "Director of Race Relations" or something like that from Belmarsh. In the letter he stated that Atilla had been of excellent character, had spoken against extremism on a number of occasions and had once stopped a prison officer being attacked by an inmate. This seemed to have an effect on the judge. He said that Dawood (the undercover cop) had himself said that Atilla was more "tactful" in real life than his preaching would suggest. Atilla's QC, quick to follow this mentioned a letter the judge had from someone who had been filming Atilla over many months who had said much the same thing.
"Who was that then?" I asked Yasser who shrugged his shoulders..
Judge retired to consider his verdict.
When he came back he said that although Hamid was a charming fellow, he used his charm to recruit terrorists. Although it seemed this recruiting was for acts abroad, that was still terrorism. He accepted that Hamid exaggerated, but said that exaggeration was intended to recruit people. He said Hamid hadn't shown remorse and he remained a danger to the public. He sentenced him to seven and a half years.
Turning to Atilla, he said he was an attention seeker, he didn't have good knowledge of the Koran. He also seemed to criticize him for not going on terror training camps because he was too lazy, which was a bit of a surprise. He said that although Atilla hadn't pleaded guilty at the first opportunity, he was satisfied that he had pleaded guilty in time to aid proceedings. He was also happy that Atilla had reformed somewhat and was no longer a danger to the public.
He sentenced him to six years and 11 months which means (we think) he'll do another 22 months.
It appeared to me that he liked Hamid, but thought he was a danger, he didn't like Atilla but thought he wasn't.
Twice the judge had said "Anyone serious about terrorism would stay well clear of Atilla Ahmet" which was more or less word for word what I have been saying for a while. Before I left I heard him commend all the QCs. Hamid's daughter was obviously devastated, Atilla's family were very, very relieved.
Speaking to Atilla's wife a bit earlier we agreed that Atilla had done the right thing pleading guilty and was on a clear pathway now. He has the same amount of time again as he has already served to do, but he is capable of doing it and more importantly has time to think and to make real plans. He is no longer in the boiling pot of fundamentalist dreamers who have all deserted him. He can take his time to do right by real people who have stuck by him.
I would have thought "Hamza's number 2's" change of heart would be more of a news story. Maybe those who write these stories aren't ready for such a truly radical concept yet. Personally I am happy. I had contact with Newsnight and The Times about a story behind all this. In the circumstances I am really, really glad that didn't work out and the story is not coming out here either. Now hopefully I can get on with some fucking music.
About time Dave! I've been waiting for your update.
He's going away for a long, long, long time. I've done a little post too:
Its really impossible to tell. Musa says he spoke to a Muslim inside who was originally sentenced for a year but got one of these IPPs. He was told he had to
"Do some courses".
He had done 25 of these and was still inside after 5 years.
Although you are obviously happy, I obviously feel for Hamid's daughter who looked really lost, and to an extent I feel for Hamid too. I think the judge did too.
Obviously now the trial is over and I can say what I like I wonder if our nation hadn't got involved in military attacks against Muslim's whether we would have seen the same journey for Hamid.
It’s the end now: the coverage of the Trial by Dave Bones of Malung TV News. I’ve enjoyed clicking onto the site be it at work or on my way home (on my Xda) to catch up with updates from the Hamid et al trial. There’s one thing that Dave has done, which I appreciate, and that’s present a different image of Atilla than what I have seen on TV many times and once in Speakers’ Corner.
Prior to the trial, I’ve also seen Atilla as the number two of Abu Hamza, which in my mind is akin to being a sympathiser of terrorism. But through Bones blogs I have seen a different side to Atilla (and I have posted on Bones blogs that may be it’s the side Atilla wanted Dave to see). Although I can’t say I believe Atilla to be innocent – I’m also finding it difficult [now] to believe he’s a committed terrorist. I guess what I’m trying to say is that there’s some doubt in my mind about Atilla, which must be a good thing, no? No doubt, others will say I haven’t been privy to the facts and if I were I wouldn’t have doubts about Atilla.
What I can say, is that Atilla has stated (I believe through a letter and shaving off his beard) his is a ‘reformed’ character now and I can only believe him. I wouldn’t classify myself as born-again Christian or a Church-going Christian but I’m a believer in Christ and I pray that the Lord gives Atilla the strength to become a better person and that the good Lord also comfort Atilla’s family through this sad ordeal. Even if Atilla is guilty and he is guilty according to the law, one must have sympathy for his family for they are the innocent and are now being punished for Atilla’s actions or inactions.
I feel the verdict in respect to Hamid was the right one. However, I do feel for his family, as they are the ones who will have to pick up the pieces now and go through the pain and sorrow of being there for Hamid througout his long prison sentence.
It would be disingenuous of me to say other wise but I genuinely would have preferred Hamid to have been a clown.
Thanks for your words of encouragement. I know this has been fun in a lot of ways for me also since 2003. Obviously it is also other peoples lives, which is why I can't join in Hamza baiting either. In my experience of him, he spoke against terrorism loudly on the street. What can I say?
Obviously for me its not quite the end, and hopefully for Atilla a new beginning. I had the same thing one time when I had a mini nervous breakdown and shaved my head.
Hopefully as his beard regrows his mind will also rebuild.
I am not sure that Hamid isn't the victim of an arrogant QC. A journalist told me Mr Bennathan was the best defence barrister he had seen, maybe Mr Bennathan thought so too. I told the guy I thought the jury would convict right at the beginning. No one listens to me. Whenever the idea of Atilla pleading guilty came up I said I thought it was a good idea.
It was interesting what the judge said about Hamid having two personalities. He blatantly liked one of them. Hamid has to work on loosing the other one or integrating it in a positive manner.
I hope the length of his sentence will still be affected by what he himself chooses to do from now on.
so that's the last four years of filming down the drain... what's next?
then more music
On reflection I think I should qualify what I said about Mr Bennathan as I have no reason to think that he didn't fully believe in Hamid's innocence.
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