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Retrial sought in airline bomb plot trial

  • Story Highlights
  • UK prosecutor calls for third trial of three men implicated in airline bomb plot
  • Starmer: "Realistic prospect of a conviction" on conspiracy to murder charges
  • Three other men were convicted of plotting to blow up planes this week
  • Trio planned to detonate liquid explosives hidden in soft-drink bottles
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- British prosecutors are seeking a retrial for three defendants in an airline bomb plot after a jury was unable to reach a verdict.

Left to right:Tanwir Hussain, Abdullah Ahmed Ali and Assad Sarwar were found guilty of the bomb plot and are due to be sentenced Monday

Left to right:Tanwir Hussain, Abdullah Ahmed Ali and Assad Sarwar were found guilty of the bomb plot and are due to be sentenced Monday

The three men were among eight defendants recently on trial in a plot to blow up planes on flights between Britain and North America.

A jury Monday cleared the three -- Ibrahim Savant, Arafat Waheed Khan, and Waheed Zaman -- of conspiracy to murder by blowing up trans-Atlantic aircraft, but it was hung on whether to convict the men of conspiracy to murder persons unknown.

The director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, said Friday he has decided to seek a retrial of the three men. If a retrial is agreed upon, it will be the men's third trial in the case.

"There remains a realistic prospect of a conviction against each defendant on the charge of conspiracy to murder," Starmer said in a statement. "Having regard to the very serious nature of the charge and the very considerable public interest in having the allegation determined by a jury one way or the other, I have concluded that, in this exceptional case, it is in the public interest to seek a further retrial."

In the trial that ended Monday, three other men were convicted of conspiracy to murder by plotting to blow up trans-Atlantic aircraft. Abdulla Ahmed Ali, Assad Sarwar and Tanvir Hussain are due to be sentenced Monday. Video Watch how three men were found guilty of airline bomb plot »

One other man on trial was cleared of all charges, and another was found guilty of conspiracy to murder, a charge not explicitly linked to airlines.

The men were arrested in August 2006 on suspicion of plotting to blow up planes with liquid explosives hidden in soft-drink bottles. The plot led to immediate restrictions on liquids that passengers are allowed to carry onboard aircraft, resulting in today's rules that allow small amounts to be carried in resealable clear plastic bags.

"This case reaffirms that we face a real and serious threat from terrorism," British Home Secretary Alan Johnson said after Monday's verdict. "This was a particularly complex and daring plot which would have led to a terrible attack resulting in major loss of life."

It had been the second trial for the men, after British prosecutors said last December they would retry them because the jury could not reach a verdict on a key charge.

They were found guilty in the first trial of conspiracy to murder, but not of intending to endanger the safety of aircraft. In the new trial, they faced a slightly different charge -- plotting to murder by blowing up planes.

Britain's Crown Prosecution Service said the group planned a series of coordinated suicide attacks on planes bound for the United States and Canada in 2006. The prosecution said the plot could have been pulled off.

British authorities said there was an al Qaeda link to the plot, which they called "an ingenious plan to blow up airplanes with liquid explosives."

The men were arrested in August 2006 when police thought the plan was ready to be put into action.

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Ali, Sarwar and Hussain had said they were planning to detonate bombs at key sites as part of a political statement, not with the intent to kill anyone.

They maintained that they were not guilty of plotting to blow up planes over the Atlantic Ocean.

All About Terrorism

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