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Terrorists are let out of jail early; Straw changes rules of selection process.

Byline: By David Barrett

JUSTICE Secretary Jack Straw was forced to announce changes to a "get out of jail early" scheme last night after revelations that two convicted terrorists benefited from the controversial measures.

The Government confirmed Yassin Nassari - arrested at Luton Airport with blueprints for a rocket in his luggage - was freed from Wakefield Prison 17 days early, and a second man was released from Glen Parva jail in Leicestershire.

Opposition politicians said it was remarkable that terrorists had been eligible for the end of custody licence scheme, which was brought in last year to create more space in the overcrowded jails.

Liberal Democrats accused Mr Straw of "shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted".

Nassari walked free on February 11, seven months after a three-and-a-half-year sentence was handed down, but had also spent more than a year on remand before conviction.

The second man was released on January 7.

It was understood he had been serving six months for possessing a document or information useful to terrorists.

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: "The number of terrorism-related cases likely to fall within the current ECL criteria is very small.

"However, in the light of these cases, the Justice Secretary has decided to change the criteria for the ECL scheme so that any prisoner convicted under terrorism legislation would not be eligible."

The news came days before a crucial Commons vote on Government plans to increase the maximum period police can question terror suspects to 42 days.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 29, 2008
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