CORRECTED: EU top court urged to review ruling on asset freeze test case

A top legal official at the European Court of Justice called Tuesday for it to annul a high-profile 2010 decision that the European Commission had no right to freeze the assets of a Saudi national put on a US list of terror suspects.

Advocate General Yves Bot argued that the General Court, which sits below the ECJ, had made several mistakes in its September 2010 ruling against the European Commission after an appeal by Yassin Abdullah Kadi, who Washington had named on a list of terror suspects after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The United Nations had also previously named Kadi for alleged links with Al-Qaeda.

Kadi has consistently contested the charges and pursued his case through the courts. The United Nations and the the European Union, removed Kadi from their terror suspect lists in October 2012.

Bot argued in his presentation for the court that an asset freeze was not the same as seizure and did not amount to a penalty given that it was implemented in the wider interest of maintaining international peace and security.

He also said that EU treaties contained provisions which limited the European Union vis-a-vis its international obligations towards the United Nations.

Kadi was said to have helped finance terrorist groups and accordingly, under UN resolutions, found his assets frozen.

A first appeal in 2005 was turned down but in September 2008, the European Court of Justice found that the European Commission had violated Kadi's fundamental human rights in following the UN assets prescription.

In November 2008, however, the European Commission adopted a new rule allowing it to maintain the freeze on Kadi's assets which the General Court then set aside in September 2010.

Bot's recommendations on the September 2010 ruling do not bind the European Court of Justice which will review them at a date to be announced.