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British court releases 2 brothers charged in alleged airliner bomb plot

Updated:
LONDON (AP) _ Two brothers charged in an alleged plot to blow up U.S.-bound airliners were released Wednesday after a British court ruled the evidence against them was insufficient to warrant a trial.

Umair Hussain, 25, and Mehran Hussain 23, had been charged with failing to disclose information about an act of terrorism in connection with the plot, which police said they foiled in August.

District Judge Quentin Purdy discharged the brothers during a hearing at the City of Westminster Magistrates Court, meaning they no longer face any charges.

The two had been accused of withholding information about their brother, Nabeel Hussain, 22, who is one of 11 people charged with conspiracy to murder and preparing acts of terrorism.

Nabeel Hussain was granted bail Friday, along with a 17-year-old suspect who cannot be named because he is under age.

``His family are delighted ... that the case against Mehran and Umair has been discharged,'' said lawyer Christopher Harding, who represented Mehran Hussain. ``They were advised from the outset that the evidence the prosecution said they were using was not strong, and it's a testament to the fact that British justice does work that they didn't need to (wait for) a jury trial.''

Mehran Hussain was charged on Aug. 21, and his brother Umair three days later. They were released directly by Purdy from the central London courtroom where Wednesday's hearing was held.

``The court decided today that there is no case to answer; we respect the court's decision,'' the Crown Prosecution Service said.

Police arrested 25 people in raids across Britain on Aug. 9-10 and charged 17 of them, after uncovering a suspected plot to assemble and detonate improvised explosives on board as many as 10 U.S.-bound planes. With the dropping of the case against Mehran and Umair Hussain, a total of 15 people remain charged in the plot, and 13 remain in custody.

A drastic crackdown on security following the arrests snarled air traffic across the Atlantic and caused frustrating delays for thousands of passengers.

The alleged plot was described by investigators as having the potential to be on a similar scale to the Sept. 11 attacks. The trial is tentatively set to open early in 2008.
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