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Afp

Man found guilty over car attack outside UK parliament

By AFP
media Jurors agreed that Salih Khater had made "a deliberate attempt to kill and maim as many people as possible" AFP/File

A London jury on Wednesday convicted a man of attempted murder after he tried to mow down cyclists and police with his car outside the British parliament last year in an attack prosecutors said had a terrorist motive.

Jurors at the Old Bailey agreed with prosecutors that Salih Khater, 30, had made "a deliberate attempt to kill and maim as many people as possible" when he steered the vehicle at his targets in Westminster last August.

Although the Sudanese-born British national failed to hit anyone, and ended up crashing the car into security barriers outside the Houses of Parliament, his actions left several cyclists needing hospital treatment.

The counter terrorism division at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which prosecuted Khater, said it was reasonable to assume he had a terrorist motive for the August 14 attack.

It noted he chose "an iconic site of national importance which had been subjected to terrorist attacks in the recent past".

Jenny Hopkins, from the CPS, said: "Whatever his motives, this was not an accident. "It was a deliberate attempt to kill and maim as many people as possible."

The court heard Khater -- who was born in Sudan and granted asylum in Britain in 2010 -- had driven around Westminster the previous night, before sleeping in his car nearby for several hours.

During the trial it emerged the resident of Birmingham in central England had unsuccessfully applied for a fast-track British passport the previous day before driving straight to London.

An accident investigator who analysed CCTV footage of the incident found Khater had deliberately manoeuvred his car in the moments leading up to the attack "with a high level of concentration", according to the CPS.

"His driving was so precise and determined that it was difficult for skilled accident investigators to repeat the manoeuvre he carried out," Hopkins said.

She added it was "only quick reactions and good luck that stopped Salih Khater killing anyone".

He will be sentenced at a later date and could face life in prison.

 
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