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UK PM Johnson pressured on jail terms after London Bridge attack

China Daily 5 days ago China Daily - Europe Weekly
Priti Patel, Boris Johnson standing next to a man wearing a suit and tie © Provided by China Daily - Europe Weekly
Priti Patel, Boris Johnson standing next to a man wearing a suit and tie: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Home Secretary Priti Patel and City of London commissioner Ian Dyson arrive at the scene of a stabbing on London Bridge, in which two people were killed, in London, Britain, Nov 30, 2019. [Photo/Agencies] © Provided by China Daily Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Home Secretary Priti Patel and City of London commissioner Ian Dyson arrive at the scene of a stabbing on London Bridge, in which two people were killed, in London, Britain, Nov 30, 2019. [Photo/Agencies]

LONDON - The London Bridge attack pushed law and order towards the top of the British political agenda on Saturday, with days to go before a snap election, after police said the assailant had previously been convicted of terrorism offences but freed early from jail.

Usman Khan, wearing a fake suicide vest and wielding knives, went on the rampage at a conference on criminal rehabilitation beside London Bridge on Friday, killing two people. The 28-year old Briton was wrestled to the ground by bystanders and then shot dead by police.

Police said on Saturday that Khan had been convicted in 2012 for his part in an al Qaeda-inspired plot to blow up the London Stock Exchange. He was released in December 2018 subject to conditions.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, criticised the government's sentencing policies.

"There's got to be a very full investigation," said Corbyn who is seeking to depose Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the election on Dec 12 but trails in opinion polls.

"I think there is also a question about what the probation service were doing ... and whether the parole board should have been involved in deciding whether or not he should have been allowed to be released from prison in the first place," he said.

Earlier, Johnson said the London Bridge attack was a terrorist act and vowed to end a practice whereby serious offenders can be automatically let out of prison early.

"I have long said that this system simply isn't working," he said after visiting the scene of the attack on Saturday.

Those convicted of a serious terrorism offence should face a mandatory minimum sentence of 14 years, he said later.

Islamic State said Friday's attack was carried out by one of its fighters and was in response to its calls to target countries that had been part of a coalition fighting the jihadist group, according to its Amaq news agency. The group did not provide any evidence for its assertion.

A man and a woman were killed in the attack, with local media naming one of the victims as Jack Merritt, a course coordinator for Learning Together, a prisoners' rehabilitation programme which held the conference at Fishmongers' Hall.

Three people remain in hospital with two victims in a stable condition while a third person is suffering from less serious injuries, according to the National Health Service.

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