Terrorist's case turns into election issue

World | ASSOCIATED PRESS 2 Dec 2019

Britain's political leaders sparred yesterday over responsibility for the early release of a convicted extremist who launched a stabbing attack in London that left two people dead and three wounded.

The argument centers on freedom for Usman Khan, 28, who served half his sentence before being set free. He stabbed the five before being shot dead by police on London Bridge.

Friday's attack is dominating the political scene in the countdown to an election on December 12, shifting the focus - at least for a while - from Brexit and the National Health Service to issues of security and criminal justice.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday blamed Khan's freedom on changes in sentencing rules made by the Labour government before Johnson's Conservatives took power in 2010. He promised to toughen sentencing laws. "I think it is repulsive that individuals as dangerous as this man should be allowed out after serving only eight years, and that's why we are going to change the law,'' he said on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.

Marr repeatedly challenged the prime minister by pointing out the Conservatives were in power for nearly 10 years and did not take any steps to change the situation.

Johnson's words were also challenged by Ed Davey, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, who said that Johnson "doesn't know the law or he's deliberately misleading people when we've got a tragedy on our hands."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he does not necessarily agree all terrorist prisoners should have to serve full terms.

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