There are better legal minds around here than mine but:
But they will also ask for a writ of habeas corpus freeing him from custody.
The common law procedure developed in medieval times and is Latin for “you may have the body”.
Umm, doesn’t it mean “we have the body” or perhaps “here is the body”?
The basic idea being that if someone is languishing in some Baron’s dungeon then the King’s courts they (or, I think, anyone else?) can demand that they are presented in the King’s courts to determine whether said Baron (or anyone else) has the right to detain them?
Going back some the point being that the body itself had to be presented at the hearing so that it could be freed if that’s what was going to happen?
BTW, on this Qatada thing, this specific case, my view is as always. He may be a bad ‘un, I have no idea. But he gets tried and treated the same way you and I do. As far as the law is concerned you’re not a bad ‘un until you’ve been tried and proved to be so. And yes, there are exceptions to this. Flight risk is a reason for denying bail as is the risk of witness nobbling. And there are times, like when we’re at war, when we have internment which is, essentially, the withdrawal of the protections of habeas corpus.
But we haven’t declared that last. Qatada hasn’t been convicted of anything in our courts. He’s not a flight risk, quite the opposite. And as we’re not trying to charge him with anything there are no witnesses to nobble.
And we just don’t do preventive detention for the quite obvious reason that we’re a free country of free people.
And yes, he’s a scumbag: and as Larry Flynt pointed out, if the law will protect scumbags then it will protect you and me.
Free Abu Qatada!