Dr Mukul Hazarika: Billingham GP will not be extradited over claims he led terror group in India
A judge has ruled a Teesside GP should not be extradited to India over alleged terror-related charges.
Dr Mukul Hazarika, a family doctor in Billingham, was informed he had won his case at a hearing in London on Thursday 16 June, after a trial in May.
He was accused by the Indian government of leading a terrorist organisation in his native country, which he has strenuously denied.
Dr Hazarika has been a well-respected figure in the community, working as a family doctor at Queenstree Medical Centre, at Billingham Health Centre, since the 1980s.
However, the Indian government said he is in fact Abhijeet Asom, and since 2012 claim he has been the chair of a terrorist organisation called the United Liberation Front of Assam, which has been involved in a campaign of bombings and violence in India over a 30 year period.
The government accuse him of attending terrorist training camps, allegations he strongly denies.
If extradited, he would have faced trial for waging war against the government of India and conspiring to commit a terrorist act.
Dr Hazarika's lawyers have previously argued that he is a human rights advocate for those in Assam and the evidence from the Indian government is flimsy.
At Thursday's hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court, Dr Hazarika was told he should not be extradited.
District Judge Michael Snow's judgement was based on the grounds of a lack of evidence to support the Indian government's claims.
Judge Snow: "There is no admissible evidence that establishes that the defendant is Asom, the chairman of ULFA (United Liberation Front of Assam, a terrorist organisation)."
He added that Dr Hazarika's rights would also be at risk of being infringed if he was extradited.
"The defendant faces a real risk that he will receive... a sentence of life imprisonment," he said.
"In my judgment, if such a sentence were imposed upon the defendant in the context of this case, then such a sentence would plainly be grossly disproportionate to the offending alleged."
Judge Snow continued: "I accept that the defendant’s trial is likely to take years and that seven years to the conclusion of the trial at first instance is a reasonable time estimate.
"Few defendants are granted bail where they face terrorist related charges and those that are often spend years in custody before bail is granted.
"I am satisfied that whilst a system to consider bail is in place, in practice... that operates in a way that leads to there being a real risk of the flagrant denial of the defendant’s rights."
Dr Hazarika was discharged and is no longer subject to any bail conditions.
He gave no comment on leaving court.
The Indian government has 14 days to decide whether it wants to appeal the ruling.
A spokesperson for NHS Tees Valley CCG said: "We are aware this case has concluded and continue to support the practice while they continue to deliver services for our patients.
"We have no further comment on this case."
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