EU court strikes down fund freeze on al-Qaeda-linked Saudi citizen
The European Union's court on Thursday struck down an order freezing the funds of a Saudi citizen suspected of links with al-Qaeda, saying that the order had violated his rights, DPA reported.
The decision means that Yassin Abdullah Kadi, whose assets were frozen in 2001, could now gain access to them within two months unless the EU's institutions launch an appeal.
The EU decision "was adopted in breach of Mr Kadi's rights of defence (and) it must be held that his right to effective judicial review has also been infringed," the EU's General Court said in a statement.
The case dates back to the terrorist attacks on New York on September 11, 2001. In the wake of the attacks, the United Nations Security Council ordered the assets of a number of alleged al-Qaeda supporters, including Kadi, to be frozen.
The EU implemented that order in October 2001. Kadi appealed, and after a ding-dong battle, the EU's upper court, the European Court of Justice, ruled in 2008 that his rights had been breached because he had not informed of the reasons for his blacklisting, and gave the EU institutions three months to provide the reasons.
Within two months, European Commission, sent Kadi a summary of the reasons, and re-imposed the asset freeze. Kadi asked to be shown the evidence leading to the decision, and when the commission did not send it, he appealed again.
The General Court found that the commission "did not grant (Kadi) even the most minimal access to the evidence against him," thereby breaching his right to a fair hearing, and overruled the decision.
Under EU rules, the asset freeze should now expire in two months' time. However, if the EU's institutions appeal, it will remain in place until the appeal is decided.