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R v Abdul-Hussain [1999] Crim LR 570  Court of Appeal

The seven appellants were Shiite Muslims from Southern Iraq. Abdul-Hussain had been sentenced to death in Iraq following a confession which had been extracted by torture. The other appellants were also fugitives facing death sentences in Iraq. They were living in Sudan and feared being deported by the Sudanese authorities. They hijacked an aeroplane bound for Jordan and it landed at Stanstead airport. After negotiations for 8 hours the appellants surrendered. At trial, the judge ruled that the defence of duress of circumstances could not be put before the jury as there was a lack of the requirement of immediacy.

Held:

Appeal allowed. The convictions were quashed.

The execution of the threat need not be immediate. . Imminent peril of death or serious injury is an essential element of both types of duress.  The defence of duress is available to those who hijack an aircraft, although in such cases the terror induced in innocent passengers will raise issues of proportionality for determination.
Back to lecture outline on the defence of duress in criminal law