James Matthews, 43, walks free from Court after the CPS offered ‘no evidence’ in the case against him.
Tuesday 31st July | by Cop(ex) | @ES_Humour
Mr Matthews was accused of joining the YPG in 2015 having served three tours with the Kurdish militia group as he volunteered to risk his own life in order to help them clear mines and booby-traps.
Matthews had said that he was ‘jolted’ to join the fight against Isis after seeing a photograph of a jihadi holding a woman’s severed head which was widely shared on Facebook.
His Lawyer in Court criticised the ‘extraordinary’ decision by the CPS to charge Mr Matthews in the first place.
In the UK, the YPG is linked to the PKK separatist group which is proscribed here in the UK.
The case against Mr Matthews is believed the be the first of its kind where ‘terrorist’ charges have been brought against a UK citizen for volunteering to fight against ISIS.
Brave Mr Matthews had also served with the British Army in Bosnia in the late 1990’s and was also featured in a documentary aired on Channel 4 about UK Citizens who travelled out to the Middle East to fight against ISIS alongside Kurdish Forces.
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Appearing today at the Old Bailey, he was charged with attending a place used for terrorist training contrary to sec 8 of the Terrorism Act 2006.
However, many people have felt that the Act should be used only to bring to justice those British Citizens who decided to join ISIS rather than to haul before the Courts the men and women who, having seen the atrocities being committed by ISIS, decided to try and help those fighting against the (then) spread of ISIS.
The prosecutor in the case against Matthews, Tom Little QC, offered no evidence to the Court after Matthews denied ‘attending a place or places in Iraq & Syria where instruction or training was provided for purposes connected to the preparation of terrorism’.
Mr Little told the hearing that the ultimate decision to drop the case against Mr Matthews was made owing to ‘new evidence’ which had subsequently emerged since the arrest of Mr Matthews.
Mr Little explained to the Old Bailey that:
‘The prosecution has concluded there is no longer a realistic possibility of conviction.’
In defence of Mr Matthews, his Barrister Joel Bennathan QC told the Court that:
‘We have always said the decision to prosecute Mr Matthews for fighting with the YPG against ISIS was extraordinary and totally unjustified’.
‘Mr Matthews was always open about what he had done and it is baffling that the CPS took two years to decide to prosecute him, then seven months later they have suddenly realised there is not enough evidence to do so.’
Mr Justice Edis entered a verdict of not guilty after the Crown offered no evidence against Matthews.
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