A Birmingham man who was described as a "key suspect" in an alleged terror plot to blow up transatlantic flights denied his guilt at a court in Pakistan yesterday.
The hearing saw Rashid Rauf speak publicly for the first time since he was arrested in August after detectives uncovered a plot to assemble and detonate improvised explosives on board passenger jets.
His 22-year-old brother, Tayib, was arrested in the Ward End area of Birmingham in August during raids which followed the emergence of the plot.
Rauf, aged 25, had fled the UK in 2002 when he was wanted by police in connection with the murder of his uncle. West Midlands Police have not closed this case.
Rauf was arrested by Pakistani agents in August and appeared in an anti-terrorism court on December 13. At that hearing terrorism charges against him were dropped because of lack of evidence and the case was transferred to a regular criminal court.
Yesterday, after appearing before Kamil Khan, judge of a Session Court in Rawalpindi - a garrison city near the capital, Islamabad - Rauf in his first public comment said that the terrorism accusations against him were wrong.
"This is wrong and an injustice," he said. "They (police) keep shifting me from one court to another," he said as police whisked him away.
Earlier, Rauf briefly appeared before the judge, who adjourned the hearing until January 5 on request from his lawyer, Hashmat Habib.
Some of the relatives of Rauf were also present in the courtroom, and the judge allowed the suspect to meet them for ten minutes.
Sporting a white skull cap and wrapped in black shawl he was produced before the judge in handcuffs. Those in court described Mr Rauf as quite cheerful during the hearing.
Rauf faces charges of possessing explosives and forging travel and identity documents.
Under Pakistani law he could be sentenced up to 14 years imprisonment or fined, if convicted. According to the Pakistan government, the British authorities asked Islamabad to extradite Rauf in connection with the 2002 murder inquiry, where his uncle was found stabbed to death.
Pakistan and Britain do not have an extradition treaty, and Pakistani officials have said that no decision has been made on the extradition request.
He could be held without charge for up to a year under terror legislation in Pakistan.
It is believed that Rauf's capture from the southern Pakistani town of Bahawalpur triggered arrests in the United Kingdom of a number of suspects allegedly plotting to blow up transatlantic flights.
The alleged plot prompted a massive security clamp-down which caused major disruption. Passengers on many flights were forbidden to take liquids aboard aircraft.
Intelligence officials in Pakistan described Rauf as a "key suspect" and claimed he had links with an outlawed Pakistani militant group and met al Qaida figures inside Pakistan in the lead-up to his arrest.
Officials claimed he had been in contact - through intermediaries - with a high-ranking al Qaida leader at large in neighbouring Afghanistan, and that he had met al Qaida figures inside Pakistan.
He also allegedly had links to the militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed and was related by marriage to its leader. It is understood that 22-year-old Tayib Rauf was released from custody in Birmingham about two weeks after his arrest.