Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Imam's 'Sham Marriage' Conspiracy Trial Collapses

A Crown Prosecution Service and Home Office bungle has resulted in the collapse of the trial of a north-west London imam, suspected of conducting 580 sham marriages at an Islamic centre between muslim men and EU national brides.

Mohammed Mattar, 63, of Maygrove Road, West Hampstead had also originally been charged with laundering over £1.8m in criminal profits via an Egyptian bank account, but this was also dropped.

His trial was due to begin at Isleworth Crown Court on October 13, but the CPS had failed to disclose all their relevant material to Matter's defence team and their application for an extension of time was refused at a pre-trial hearing on September 18.

Yesterday a CPS spokesperson said: "In early 2014 we identified a large amount of potentially relevant material and we advised the Home Office investigation team to obtain and look into the material for the purpose of disclosure.

"In August it became apparent that this work had not been completed and therefore we would not be able to fully discharge disclosure obligations in the case before the trial.

"We therefore applied for an adjournment. This was refused by the court and we had no option, but to offer no evidence."

Mattar, who was known at the Dar Al Dawa Islamic Centre in Westbourne Grove, was originally charged with conspiring to facilitate a breach of UK immigration law between January 1, 2008 and July 12, 2012 by conducting marriages between EU national females and non EU national males to obtain permanent leave to remain in the UK.

He was also charged with concealing criminal property between the same dates via money transfers to the value of £1,887,262, contrary to the Proceeds of Crime Act, but this charge had already been dropped in April.

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