Lawyer facing contempt charge over terrorism case

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LONDON, Nov 6 (Reuters) The lawyer of a British student jailed for terrorism offences in Scotland could face contempt of court charges for heavily criticising his client's trial, its presiding judge said today.

Aamer Anwar, who represented Mohammed Atif Siddique, will be brought before court to see whether he should face action over his ''multi-faceted tirade'', Lord Carloway ruled.

Siddique, 21, from central Scotland, was convicted of possessing terrorism-related materials -- including bomb-making instructions -- and later distributing it via the Internet.

After Siddique, described by prosecutors as a ''wannabe suicide bomber'', was found guilty in September, Anwar made a serious of critical statements outside the High Court in Glasgow.

The lawyer's comments, that the prosecution was ''driven by the state'' and the verdict was a ''tragedy for justice and for freedom of speech'', were made before his client was sentenced by the judge and jailed for eight years.

He also told reporters his client had been ''found guilty of doing what millions of young people do every day -- looking for answers on the Internet''.

In a personal written ruling, released today, the judge said the ''untrue and misleading'' comments were, in his opinion, an unfair attack on the integrity of the jury.

''The remarks appeared to be an unjustified attack on almost every area of the trial process, other than the defence,'' the judge wrote.

''The statement seems to be an attack on the fairness of the trial and thus presumably an attack on the court itself.

''In all these circumstances, since the statements made by the agent may appear to be criticism not only of the jury, the prosecutor and a witness, but of my own conduct of the trial, I will remit this matter for determination of the High Court in Edinburgh.'' Up to three senior judges will now decide whether there is evidence to bring charges. Anwar, who could be imprisoned and struck off as a lawyer if found guilty of contempt, is due in court on a date yet to be fixed.


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