Almost 300 suspects are on the run from Norfolk police - wanted for kidnap and attempted murder
PUBLISHED: 07:50 17 August 2017 | UPDATED: 17:38 17 August 2017
Nearly 300 suspects are wanted by Norfolk police for crimes ranging from rape to drug offences - but we can’t tell you who has been on the run for years because officers say it would breach their privacy.
The suspects on the run for the longest time include an Iranian scientist, who lived in Wroxham, but fled the country after three letter bombs were posted from a Thetford depot in 1998 and a Libyan father accused of kidnapping his children from their Norfolk mum in 2000 in a plot linked to a terrorist mastermind.
But this newspaper can’t tell you who most of these suspects are - because police said it would infringe data protection and human rights laws.
All of the 15 have a warrant out for their arrest. Some of them have been sought by Norfolk Police since the mid 1990s and crimes include rape, supplying drugs, violence and fraud.
There are among the 286 people with an outstanding arrest warrant with Norfolk Police.
The force posts a handful of wanted appeals asking for the public’s help to trace suspects on its website.
But under the Freedom of Information Act this newspaper asked Norfolk and Suffolk police forces for the details and pictures of the 15 suspects wanted for the longest period of time and the number of outstanding arrest warrants in each county.
Both Constabularies refused to release any details which could identify almost all of those wanted for the longest period as they said it would breach the Data Protection Act.
Other police forces in the country have released the information through similar requests.
In April this year Northamptonshire Police published the photos and details of the 15 suspected criminals on the run for the longest time.
This newspaper appealed the decisions of Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies, arguing the public should know who the suspects are, particularly those who have been wanted for serious crimes for several years.
But the police rejected the appeal, citing the Human Rights Act which grants the suspects privacy.
Norfolk police said releasing information about a suspect being wanted could “compromise the current or future law enforcement role of the force” as it would let the suspect know that their disappearance had been detected making it more difficult to find them.
The police admitted that releasing the information would “provide reassurance” to the public, but they also said that publishing it could place “undue fear of crime within the community”.
Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner Lorne Green said he was satisfied the force was following the correct procedure by not identifying the suspects.
The suspect on the run for the longest from Norfolk Police is a 71-year old wanted for an indecent assault in 1997.
The most serious offence is a 59-year old wanted for rape in Norwich in 2005.
Rachel Almeida, from charity Victim Support, said: “It is of course shocking and upsetting for victims to know that the perpetrator has not been brought to justice.
“This can make it difficult for them to move beyond the crime and begin to rebuild their lives.”
Norfolk Police did name two of the 15 suspects because they were named at the time of the offences - Azzedin Journazi, wanted for kidnap, and Cyrus Ghiassy, wanted for attempted murder.
Police have previously pledged to arrest Mr Journazi if he ever steps foot on British soil.
He is believed to be in Libya where he fled after his five children were kidnapped in 2000 from their Norwich mum Anita Lewis.
The children were taken from her in June 2000 when she was living at Saxlingham Nethergate.
She had split with their father and her partner of 11 years before and he had picked them up while on a routine access visit, but never brought them back. Three months later she found they were with their father in Libya.
In 2005 Mustapha Abushim, then 45, from Manchester was convicted at Norwich Crown Court of five counts of conspiracy to kidnap for his part in spiriting the children away to Libya.
He had posed as the father of Anita’s daughters and sons, passing them off as five of his 11 children included on his passport to get them out of the country.
During his court case it emerged that al-Qaeda terrorist Djamel Beghal had been involved in the kidnap plot.
Beghal was jailed for six years in France in 2005 but was released under house arrest in 2009 and went on to mentor the Charlie Hebdo gunmen.
The other suspect named by Norfolk police, Cyrus Ghiassy, has been wanted since 1998 for attempted murder.
The Iranian physicist, now 74, is suspected of posting letter bombs from a Thetford parcel depot in 1998 in revenge for a court case which he lost.
One of the bombs seriously injured former police inspector Michael Coyne and his wife Margaret in Dundee.
At the time police believed it was in revenge for evidence Mr Coyne gave in a civil court case lost by Mr Chiassy three years before which left him bankrupt.
Mr Ghiassy was living in Wroxham at the time the parcel bombs were sent but he fled to his native Iran after the attack.
Police have been unable to question him since as he has not been extradited from the Middle East country.
A Norfolk police spokesman said: “All suspects have been listed on the Police National Computer as wanted so if they came to police attention anywhere in the country, or returning to the country if thought to be abroad, this would be flagged.”
•What the suspects are wanted for
As of May this year, Norfolk police had 303 outstanding warrants for the arrests of 286 people.
The most common offence suspects are wanted for is theft with 72 outstanding warrants for that, followed by 43 for minor traffic offences.
That is followed by 20 warrants for drug offences, 18 for breaching court orders, 16 for common assault and 15 for burglary. There are also 12 wanted for serious assaults and 11 for weapon offences.
A police spokesman said: “Police will publicise people as wanted where the offences are of a serious nature, where there is sufficient evidence to prosecute, or where there are public safety concerns, however this public posting has to be justified, proportionate, in line with other legislation, including data protection, and balanced with the needs of the victim or the investigation.
“Each case is considered individually and people will usually only be named as wanted for specific offences before charge in exceptional circumstances, where it is deemed that public safety is at risk and/or there is a real risk of re-offending.”
•Wanted in Suffolk
In Suffolk police have 198 outstanding arrest warrants for 193 suspects.
This newspaper also asked Suffolk police for details of the 15 suspects wanted for the longest period.
The force refused our request and our appeal - citing the same reasons as Norfolk police.
They said it would be “unfair” and breach their right to privacy under the Data Protection Act as well as the Human Rights Act.
The suspect on the run for the longest period is someone wanted for drug supply in Newmarket in 1993.
That is followed by someone wanted for an indecent assault in Ipswich in 1994.
The most serious offence of the suspects is someone wanted for a rape in Ipswich in 1999.
Officers said they would not say who the wanted suspected rapist was as they were “presumed to be aboard”, so much time had elapsed since the offence and there was no “policing purpose” in doing so.
•Do you think the suspects’ names should be released? Or were Norfolk and Suffolk Police right? Have your say below or vote in our poll above.