EU Can’t Freeze Assets of Suspected Terrorist

     (CN) – Suspected terrorist and known Osama Bin Laden associate Yassin Abdullah Kadi should not be subjected to an asset freeze, the EU’s highest court ruled.
     The European Commission had frozen Kati’s assets in 2001 under U.N. Security Council measures, and the General Court initially upheld the sanction after finding that U.N. resolutions enjoy immunity from adjudication by EU courts.
     It annulled the freeze in 2010, however, heeding the direction from the Court of Justice of the European Union that it must make a “full and rigorous judicial review” of the legality of the commission’s action.
     For his part, Kadi has always maintained that he is only a Saudi businessman and philanthropist and denies his ties to al-Qaida and Bin Laden. But the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control presented 2,800 pages of evidence in its case against Kadi that shows he has acted for or on behalf of al-Qaida, bin Laden and Makhtab al-Khidamat, and that he gave financial and technological support to al-Qaida, Hamas and the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society.
     Likewise a federal judge in Washington supported Kadi’s designation as a global terrorist last year.
     The British government, the commission and the EU Council agreed with the U.S. designation by asking the EU’s high court to reinstate the asset freeze.
     This past March, Advocate General Yves Bot cautioned the court against full immunity of U.N. resolutions.
     While Bot advised the high court apply the asset freeze carefully, the court held Thursday that the refusal of EU authorities to present evidence against Kadi – out of national security concerns – doomed the entire action.
     Its decision came despite the support of nearly every EU country for the sanctions, appearing as interveners on behalf of the U.K., the commission and lawmakers in the case.
     “If the competent European Union authority finds itself unable to comply with the request by the courts of the European Union, it is then the duty of those courts to base their decision solely on the material which has been disclosed to them, namely in this case, the indications contained in the narrative summary of reasons provided by the sanctions committee, the observations and exculpatory evidence that may have been produced by the person concerned and the response of the competent European Union authority to those observations,” the high court wrote. “If that material is insufficient to allow a finding that a reason is well founded, the Courts of the European Union shall disregard that reason as a possible basis for the contested decision to list or maintain a listing.”
     The court continued: “Admittedly, overriding considerations to do with the security of the European Union or of its member states or with the conduct of their international relations may preclude the disclosure of some information or some evidence to the person concerned. In such circumstances, it is nonetheless the task of the Courts of the European Union, before whom the secrecy or confidentiality of that information or evidence is no valid objection to apply, in the course of the judicial review to be carried out, techniques which accommodate on the one hand legitimate security considerations about the nature and sources of information taken into account in the adoption of the act concerned and, on the other, the need sufficiently to guarantee to an individual respect for his procedural rights, such as the right to be heard and the requirement for an adversarial process.”
     Such a review process guarantees judicial protection, now deemed a basic human right by the EU’s Court of Human Rights, according to the ruling.
     While the U.N. Sanctions Committee provided some “sufficiently detailed and specific” evidence that Kadi and his business entities gave financial support to known terrorist organizations in its blacklisting of Kadi, the court found that EU authorities failed to lodge enough evidence to let Kadi defend himself.
     “None of the allegations presented against Kadi in the summary provided by the sanctions committee are such as to justify the adoption at European Union level of restrictive measures against him, either because the statement of reasons is insufficient or because information or evidence which might substantiate the reason concerned, in the face of detailed rebuttals submitted by the party concerned, is lacking,” the decision states.
     Interestingly, the EU removed Kadi from its terror watch list on its own in October 2012.

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