LONDON – A British court ruled Wednesday there was not enough evidence to try two brothers charged in connection with an alleged plot to bomb trans-Atlantic airliners in mid-air.
District Judge Quentin Purdy discharged the brothers during a hearing at the City of Westminster Magistrates Court, meaning they no longer face any charges.
They had been accused of withholding information about their brother Nabeel Hussain, 22, who is one of 11 people charged with conspiracy to murder and preparing acts of terrorism. Nabeel Hussain was granted bail on Friday, along with a 17-year-old suspect who cannot be named because he is under age.
"His family are delighted ... that the case against Mehran and Umair has been discharged," said lawyer Christopher Harding, who represented Mehran Hussain. "They were advised from the outset that the evidence the prosecution said they were using was not strong, and it's a testament to the fact that British justice does work that they didn't need to (wait for) a jury trial."
The brothers were both arrested on Aug. 9. Mehran Hussain was charged on Aug.21, his brother three days later. They were released directly by Purdy from the central London courtroom where Wednesday's hearing was held.
In a statement, the Crown Prosecution Service said that they believed there was sufficient evidence to charge the brothers under Britain's terrorism laws.
"The court decided today that there is no case to answer; we respect the court's decision," the brief statement said.
Police arrested 25 people in raids across Britain on Aug. 9-10 and charged 17 of them, after uncovering a suspected plot to assemble and detonate improvised explosives on board as many as 10 U.S.-bound planes.
A drastic crackdown on security following the arrests snarled air traffic across the Atlantic and caused frustrating delays for thousands of passengers.
The alleged plot was described by investigators as having the potential to be on a similar scale to the Sept. 11 attacks.