Asad Shah murder case leads to law review

Written by Andrew Whitaker on 10 August 2016 in News

The law on religiously aggravated crimes is to be reviewed following the conviction of the man who murdered Glasgow shopkeeper Asad Shah.

credit - BBC

Legislation covering religiously aggravated crimes is to be reviewed following the conviction of the murderer of Glasgow shopkeeper Asad Shah.

The Crown Office decided the circumstances of the killing did not meet the "statutory test" for a religiously aggravated offence.

However the Lord Advocate has now written to Scotland’s Justice Secretary Michael Matheson to highlight a "potential gap" in legislation.


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Offenders charged with an offence aggravated by religious prejudice can face a longer minimum sentence.

Tanveer Ahmed a Sunni Muslim from Bradford in Yorkshire, was jailed for a minimum of 27 years on Tuesday for stabbing 40-year-old shopkeeper Shah to death outside his store in Glasgow in March.

The 32-year-old claimed he killed Shah, a member of the Ahmadi Muslim community, because he had "disrespected Islam" by claiming to be a prophet.

Crown Office lawyers concluded the crime could not be classed as aggravated by religious prejudice under the current legal definition.

However, Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC said: "Following careful consideration of the evidence, Crown Counsel, the most senior lawyers in Crown Office concluded that the statutory test for an offence to be aggravated by religious prejudice was not met in the circumstances of this case.

"The absence of the statutory aggravation in this charge does not in any way diminish the gravity or seriousness of the crime. The full circumstances of the case were placed before the court for its consideration.

"The case has highlighted a potential gap in the statutory provision on religious aggravation and I have accordingly written to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice to ask him to consider reviewing the legislation."

Justice Secretary Matheson later said a "very important issue" has been raised.

Speaking to STV News, he said: "There may be a potential gap within the legislation at the present moment.

"I think he's raised a very important issues and as a government we are now going to consider that very carefully and if necessary we will bring forward legislation to address this very issue that the Lord Advocate has raised."

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