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Prosecuting Terrorism

Terrorism, race hate, crimes against humanity, war crimes, violent extremism, hijacking and espionage cases are tackled by a specialist team of Crown Prosecutors. The Counter Terrorism Division of the CPS includes highly experienced prosecutors, advocates and caseworkers who work closely with the police to bring offenders to justice.

Find out more about how we prosecute cases of terrorism.

Prosecuting Homicide

Murder and manslaughter are two of the offences that constitute homicide.

Manslaughter can be committed in one of three ways:

  1. killing with the intent for murder but where there is provocation, diminished responsibility or a suicide pact.
  2. conduct that was grossly negligent given the risk of death, and resulted in death.
  3. conduct, taking the form of an unlawful act involving a danger of some harm, that caused death.

With some exceptions, the crime of murder is committed, where a person:

  • of sound mind and discretion (i.e. sane):
  • unlawfully kills (i.e. not self-defence or other justified killing)
  • any reasonable creature (human being)
  • in being (born alive and breathing through its own lungs)
  • under the Queen's Peace
  • with intent to kill or cause grievous bodily harm.

There are other specific homicide offences, for example, infanticide, causing death by dangerous driving, and corporate manslaughter.

Find out more about prosecuting homicide

Three men linked to liquid bomb plot guilty of conspiracy to murder


Today's convictions of Ibrahim Savant, Arafat Waheed Khan and Waheed Zaman are the culmination of years of determined work by the CPS and police, and brings to 12 the number of those successfully prosecuted following the arrests in relation to the liquid bomb plot, said Sue Hemming, head of the Crown Prosecution Service Counter Terrorism Division.

Ms Hemming said: "Ibrahim Savant, Arafat Waheed Khan and Waheed Zaman were actively working alongside other men on a plot to cause death and injury on a massive scale. They were cleared in the previous trial of being aware of the ultimate targets of the plot, but we say that they were committed to the principle and practice of violent jihad to the point of targeting innocent people in an attempt to further their cause.

"The charges against these men were so serious that, following two previous trials where juries could not reach verdicts, the Director of Public Prosecutions decided that the evidence must be properly tested before a jury for a third time. The verdicts demonstrate that the Crown Prosecution Service was right to pursue a third trial."

Following a three-month retrial, the three men were convicted at Woolwich Crown Court of conspiracy to murder. The verdicts follow last year's convictions of Abdulla Ahmed Ali, Tanvir Hussain and Assad Sarwar for plotting to blow up planes over the Atlantic.

Ms Hemming said: "Today's convictions are the culmination of years of collaboration between the CPS Counter Terrorism Division, the Metropolitan Police and the Security Services. Thanks to their hard work and that of counsel prosecuting the case, these dangerous individuals have been brought to justice.

"These men were involved in a calculated and sophisticated plot to create a terrorist event of major proportions, working alongside others who were determined to bring down aircraft using home-made explosives, causing the maximum possible loss of life.

"Along with others in the conspiracy, they recorded chilling so-called martyrdom videos that feature threats to the West of waves of terrorist attacks and suggested justification for terrorism. There can of course be no legitimate reason for planning and carrying out such acts, whether they knew of the intended targets or not."

She said the three men had argued during their first trial that they had intended merely to bring attention to their cause and that their videos were intended to be used as part of a documentary.

Ms Hemming said: "We rejected these pleas as they did not reflect the evidence in the case and the level of criminality displayed by the defendants. The jury has also decided, with these verdicts, that they were guilty of much more serious offences and we thank them for their attention to the evidence during this trial."

"The CPS is committed to prosecuting to the full extent of the law those who would use terror to try and achieve their aims - whatever their motivation and the perceived justification. This trial has been another demonstration of that commitment."


  1. Media enquiries by phone: 020 3357 0906. Out of hours pager: 07699 781926.
  2. The original trial started on 3 April 2008, at Woolwich Crown Court and ended on 8 September 2008 with Abdulla Ahmed Ali, Tanvir Hussain and Assad Sarwar being convicted of conspiracy to murder people unknown (without the element of aircraft). The jury was unable to decide on a verdict in respect of the other charges and defendants, apart from Mohammed Gulzar, who was acquitted.
  3. The CPS announced its decision to apply for a retrial on 10 September 2008. The retrial started on 2 March 2009. The second trial saw Ali, Sarwar and Hussain convicted of the plot to destroy transatlantic aircraft. Ibrahim Savant, Arafat Waheed Khan and Waheed Zaman were acquitted of conspiracy to murder people on board transatlantic airliners during the second trial and the jury was hung on charges of conspiracy to murder persons unknown. The CPS immediately decided to press for a third trial.
  4. The maximum sentence for a charge of conspiracy to murder is life imprisonment.
  5. The men's arrest sparked a huge security clampdown at British airports, with passengers no longer permitted to take most hand baggage on board, as well as a ban on any liquids.
  6. The evidence included:
    • 26,000 exhibits,
    • 9,710 statements
    • 142 interviews with the defendants
    • 800 electronic devices were seized (laptops, PCs, USBs, and external hard drives), 226 from internet cafes
    • The police examined 14,000GB of data, including 15,000 CDs and DVDs and 500 floppy disks
  7. The Crown Prosecution Service is the independent authority responsible for prosecuting criminal cases investigated by the police in England and Wales. It is responsible for:
    • Advising the police and reviewing the evidence on cases for possible prosecution
    • Deciding the charge where the decision is to prosecute
    • Preparing cases for court
    • Presenting cases at court
  8. The CPS consists of 42 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). These are organised into 14 Groups, plus CPS London, each overseen by Group Chair, a senior CCP. In addition there are four specialised national divisions: the Central Fraud Group, Counter-Terrorism, Organised Crime and Special Crime. A telephone service, CPS Direct, provides out-of-hours advice and decisions to police officers across England and Wales. The CPS employs around 8,250 people and prosecuted 1,032,598 cases with an overall conviction rate of 86.6% in 2008-2009. Further information can be found on our website.

    More about the CPS

  9. The DPP has published his long term vision for the prosecution service and its role within the wider criminal justice system. It includes modernising the service and increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of criminal justice - read "The Public Prosecution Service: Setting the Standard" at
  10. The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests.

    Publicity and the Criminal Justice System protocol