Prisoner who fought London Daesh attacker to have sentence reduced

A convicted murderer who confronted Daesh terrorist Usman Khan during last year’s London Bridge attack is to have his sentence reduced. (File/AFP)
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Updated 18 October 2020

Prisoner who fought London Daesh attacker to have sentence reduced

  • It is not a pardon, but his 17-year sentence will be reduced by 10 months
  • Gallant was on day release during the attack last November, and could apply for parole in June next year

LONDON: A convicted murderer who confronted Daesh terrorist Usman Khan during last year’s London Bridge attack is to have his sentence reduced.
Steven Gallant has been granted the royal prerogative of murder, a rare tool of British law that allows for the absolution for a convicted murderer.
It is not a pardon, but his 17-year sentence will be reduced by 10 months. He was on day release during the attack last November, and could apply for parole in June next year.
Gallant was convicted for the murder of firefighter Barrie Jackson, who was attacked outside of a pub in northern England. Gallant targeted Jackson after he was acquitted for the attempted murder of a 64-year-old prostitute.
At the time of his death, Jackson was preparing to attend court to give evidence regarding an accusation of intimidating witnesses to his assault on Rosaleena Capell.
Jackson’s family have backed the decision to free the murderer early. His son Jack said: “I have mixed emotions — but what happened at London Bridge goes to show the reality that people can change.” He added that he would not rule out meeting Gallant.
On the day of the attack last year, Khan was alongside Gallant at a prisoner rehabilitation conference called Learning Together.
When Khan brandished two knives and attacked organizers Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones, Gallant used an ornamental narwhal tusk from the venue as a weapon.
He chased Khan out of the building and onto the bridge, where Khan was shot dead by police after he revealed what appeared to be an explosive vest, but later turned out to be a decoy.
Following the attack, Gallant said he “didn’t hesitate” to confront Khan. “I could tell something was wrong and had to help. I saw injured people. Khan was stood in the foyer with two large knives in his hands. He was a clear danger to all,” he said.
Referring to his murder conviction, Gallant said: “It is right I was handed a severe penalty for my actions. Once I’d accepted my punishment, I decided to seek help. When you go to prison, you lose control of your life. Bettering yourself becomes one of the few things you can do while reducing the existing burden on society.”
Neil Hudgell, Gallant’s solicitor, said: “Steve feels a debt of gratitude to all those who helped him to achieve a royal prerogative of mercy. He is passionate about using his knowledge and experiences to help others steer away from crime.”


Rights group, journalists condemn closure of Kashmir’s oldest newspaper

Updated 2 min 48 sec ago

Rights group, journalists condemn closure of Kashmir’s oldest newspaper

  • Local estates department sealed the office of Kashmir Times on Monday saying it no longer had the right to occupy the premises
  • Editor Anuradha Bhasin says authorities shut down the office without following due process or serving eviction notice

NEW DELHI: An international media rights group and journalists in Indian-administered Kashmir on Tuesday condemned the closure a day earlier of a bureau of Kashmir Times (KT), the oldest newspaper in the disputed valley. 

On Monday, the local estates department sealed the office of Kashmir Times, located in the Press Enclave of Srinagar. The department has not commented officially on why the office was shut down but officials have told media the owner of the building had died and KT no longer had the right to occupy the premises. 

“We condemn the ongoing targeting and harassment of @AnuradhaBhasin_ and the Kashmir Times,” the Committee To Protect Journalists tweeted on Tuesday, referring to the editor of The Kashmir Times, Anuradha Bhasin. "Authorities must stop trying to silence independent and critical voices and should respect press freedom.”

On August 5, 2019, the Indian government stripped Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state, of its autonomy, and imposed a crippling curfew and communications blackout and arrested dozens of local politicians.

Kashmir Times editor Bhasin, who had filed a petition in India’s Supreme Court challenging the cutting off of internet and telephone lines in the region, said authorities had sealed the paper’s office without giving prior notice. 

“Without following any due process or serving any eviction notice, the estate department officials came and asked the people working inside to come out and locked the office," she told Arab News.

A few weeks ago, Bhasin said, she had been evicted in a similar fashion from her government-allotted residence in Hindu-majority Jammu.
 
“The administration not only evicted me without any notice but handed over my belongings to a new allottee,” she said.

“Why we are being targeted is because we continued to maintain the tradition of maintaining independence despite our sagging finances and constraints," Bhasin said. "We have continued to speak critically of the government’s policies and actions."

KT's closure follows a similar incident on Saturday when the local administration sealed the office of a leading news agency of the region, the Kashmir News Service.

Sehrish Asgar, chief of Kashmir’s department of information, did not reply to several calls and text messages from Arab News seeking comment. The estates department also declined comment on the record but one official, who requested anonymity, said:

“The building that we sealed was in the name of Ved Bhasin, and he expired four years ago. Since this building was allotted in someone else’s name, the government cancelled the allotment in the normal process … we served the notice in July itself and it is not an abrupt sealing.”

The Srinagar-based Kashmir Press Club (KPC) called the move a “vendetta” by the government against media in Kashmir. 

“The actions are a clear vendetta against independent journalists and media houses. They don’t want media and independent voices to function freely,” Ishfaq Tantray, KPC general secretary, told Arab News.

KT was first established as a weekly in 1954 and became a daily newspaper in 1964, with two million subscriptions in the region currently.

Bhasin said the government had stopped posting advertisements in Kashmir Times since August last year in retaliation against the paper’s “challenge of the internet ban in the apex court.” 

The paper thus had to shut down its print edition in both Jammu and Srinagar and had “paid the price" for being the "voice of the people,” she said. 

Fahad Shah, editor of the Srinagar-based web magazine Kashmir Wala, said he had been questioned by authorities several times in recent months for his reportage in what were ongoing attempts to muzzle the press.

“This is just another way of intimidating the press,” he said on the closure of KT’s office.