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Abu Hamza and Babar Ahmad to be extradited to US, court rules - April-10-12
Source: The Times - Law
Five terrorist suspects including radical Islamist preacher Abu Hamza can be extradited from the UK to the America to face trial on terror charges, European human rights judges ruled today.
Judges at the European Court of Human Rights rejected the men’s claim that they could face sentences and prison conditions which would expose them to “torture or inhumane” treatment.
The five, including Abu Hamza, Babar Ahmad, Seyla Talah Ahsan, Adel Abdul Bary and Khaled Al—Fawwaz, have three months before today’s ruling is made final.
In that time they can ask the Grand Chamber of the court to consider an appeal and until then cannot be put on a plane and sent to the United States.
However, very few cases are reheard in the Grand Chamber. The case against a sixth man, Haroon Rashid Aswat, was adjourned so judges could be told more about his schizophrenia and how he would be treated if sent to America. He is currently in Broadmoor top security mental hospital in Berkshire.
David Cameron said he was “very pleased” Abu Hamza’s extradition to the US can go ahead following the judgment. He added: “It is quite right that we have proper legal processes, although sometimes one can get frustrated with how long they take.”
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, said the Government “will work to ensure that the suspects are handed over to the US authorities as quickly as possible”.
She added: “I welcome the decision of the European Court of Human Rights to allow the extradition of Abu Hamza and other terror suspects.”
Today’s ruling said “detention conditions and length of sentences of five alleged terrorists would not amount to ill treatment if they were extradited to the USA”.
It said there would be breach of human rights if the men were to be held at ADX Florence, a Federal Supermax jail used for people convicted of terrorism offences. The court also held that the life sentences each man faces would not breach human rights.
A spokesman for Babar Ahmad, 36, who has been held for a record of nearly eight years without trial, said he would fight on against extradition.
Abu Hamza, held on in jail awaiting extradition after completing a seven year jail term for inciting murder at Finsbury Park mosque, is unlikely to be held at the supermax jail because of his disabilities.
The judges said that between 1999 and 2006 all six men were indicted on various terrorism charges in America.
Babar Ahmad and Seyla Ahsan are accused of various offences including providing support to terrorists and conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim or injure persons or damage property in a foreign country.
Abu Hamza has been charged with 11 different counts of criminal conduct related to the taking of 16 hostages in Yemen in 1998, advocating violent jihad in Afghanistan in 2001 and conspiring to establish a jihad training camp in Bly, Oregon, between June 2000 and December 2001.
Harron Aswat was indicted as Hamza’s “co-conspirator”, while Adel Bary and Khaled Al-Fawwaz were indicted – along with Osama bin Laden and 20 others – for their alleged involvement in, or support for, the bombing of US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998.
Khaled Al-Fawwaz had “notably” been charged with more than 269 counts of murder. On the basis of the American extradition warrants, the six men were arrested in the UK and held pending extradition. They all separately unsuccessfully contested extradition, and their requests to appeal to the House of Lords and the Supreme Court were also rejected.
The human rights judges said that, having considered all evidence including “specifically prepared” statements by officials at ADX Florence as well as letters from the US Department of Justice, “the court held that conditions at ADX would not amount to ill-treatment”.
The judgment went on: “In particular, not all inmates convicted of international terrorism were housed at ADX and, even if they were, sufficient procedural safeguards were in place, such as holding a hearing before deciding on such a transfer.
“Furthermore, if the transfer process had been unsatisfactory, there was the possibility of bringing a claim to both the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ administrative remedy programme and the US federal courts.”
On the jail’s “restrictive conditions and lack of human contact”, the judges said: “The court found that, if the applicants were convicted as charged, the US authorities would be justified in considering them a significant security risk and in imposing strict limitations on their ability to communicate with the outside world.
“Besides, ADX inmates - although confined to their cells for the vast majority of the time - were provided with services and activities (television, radio, newspapers, books, hobby and craft items,
telephone calls, social visits, correspondence with families, group prayer) which went beyond what was provided in most prisons in Europe.”
The ruling said that, according to the US Department of Justice, of the 252 inmates in ADX, 89 are in a programme under which they have the potential to move to different levels of contact with other inmates and eventual transfer to another jail.
It said that if they were convicted and put in the ADX jail, the five men “would have a real possibility under such a programme of moving through different levels of contact with others until being suitable for transfer to a normal prison”.
Ashfaz Ahmad, Mr Ahmad’s father said that the family was “very disappointed” by the ruling. He said that a miscarriage of justice was taking place and called for a public inquiry.
“Babar has already been imprisoned without a trial for nearly eight years, something he describes as the most unimaginable psychological torture,” said Mr Ahmad.
“We call on the Government to listen to the British public and its own ministers, and to put Babar on trial in the United Kingdom without delay.”
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