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EU court annuls funds freeze against Saudi 'terror' suspect

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(LUXEMBOURG) - Europe's second highest court Thursday annulled a European Commission decision to freeze the assets of a Saudi man suspected of ties to Al-Qaeda after a long-running battle over the case.

The General Court of the European Union ruled that the regulation adopted by the commission was in breach of the rights of defence of Yassin Abdullah Kadi and an "unjustified restriction of his right to property."

The commission froze funds belonging to Kadi after the 2001 attacks in the United States when he was listed by the UN Security Council in October that year for suspected links to Osama bin Laden and the Taliban.

The court dismissed a first attempt by Kadi, a businessman based in Saudi Arabia, to lift the freeze in 2005.

Kadi appealed to the EU's Court of Justice, Europe's top tribunal, which in September 2008 ruled in his favour, saying the EU failed to respect his rights of defence.

But the top court kept the freeze in place for three months to give the EU time to change the regulation.

The European Commission then informed Kadi it would adopt legislation to keep him listed. The Saudi businessman asked for evidence supporting the allegations in order to be able to respond.

In November 2008, the commission adopted a new regulation maintaining the freeze on Kadi's funds.

The EU executive told Kadi that it had complied with the court decision by providing him a summary of reasons given by the UN sanctions committee, and that it did not have to disclose the extra evidence he had requested.

Kadi sought a new annulment before the General Court, which sided with him this time.

The court said the commission failed to grant Kadi "even the most minimal access to the evidence against him."

"The limited information and the imprecise allegations in the summary of reasons appear clearly insufficient to enable Mr Kadi to launch an effective challenge to the allegations against him with regard to his alleged participation in terrorist activities," the court said.

"Moreover, the commission made no real effort to refute the exculpatory evidence advanced by Mr Kadi in the few cases in which the allegations against him were sufficiently precise to permit him to know what was being raised against him," it said.

Judgement of the General Court in case T-85/09 - Kadi v Commission- full texts


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