LONDON, AP – Investigators said Monday that 11 of the 23 suspects being held in the foiled plot to blow up as many as 10 trans-Atlantic flights have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Also, the head of the country’s anti-terror branch said bomb-making equipment was discovered during the probe.
Earlier, lawyers for a female suspect detained in the alleged plot asked a British court for a hearing to review the order keeping her in custody. Police have held the woman, identified only as “Detainee J,” since Aug. 10.
Lawyers representing the woman went to High Court to ask for the hearing to force judges to reveal the reasons for her continued detention.
Under Britain’s terror laws, suspects can be held for as long as 28 days without charge, but police must convince a judge of the reasons to continue to detain someone for questioning. The extensions are generally granted incrementally.
“Detainee J” has already had her time in custody extended once.
“My client seeks full reasons for the continued decision to extend the warrants in this case,” her lawyer, Saghir Hussain, said in a statement outside the courthouse.
London’s Metropolitan Police said it could not confirm if officers would make any application to continue to detain the two suspects due to be released Monday under the current deadlines. On Wednesday, detention orders for another 21 people are due to expire, and police will either have to release or charge them, or ask a judge for an extension.
Police investigating the alleged plot have gathered “substantial material” as evidence, Home Secretary John Reid said. He indicated some individuals could be charged with criminal offenses in the next few days as a result of the inquiry, but refused to disclose specific details, in keeping with the tightlipped nature of the operation.
In Pakistan, law enforcement authorities are continuing to interrogate Rashid Rauf, a Briton of Pakistani descent, over his alleged key role in the plot, officials said.
Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao said British police were conducting inquiries in Pakistan, but were not involved in questioning Rauf.
Tighter security regulations on passengers carrying hand luggage and liquids onboard planes were ushered in at airports after police announced that they had foiled the alleged plot.
It was revealed by U.S. officials that authorities believed the suspects planned to detonate liquid explosives aboard commercial jets.