Last Updated: Mon Jul 09, 2012 23:05 pm (KSA) 20:05 pm (GMT)

Islamist cleric Abu Hamza appeals ECHR extradition ruling

The hook-handed preacher Abu Hamza is wanted by the U.S. on 11 charges including conspiring to set up a jihad training camp in Oregon. (AP)
The hook-handed preacher Abu Hamza is wanted by the U.S. on 11 charges including conspiring to set up a jihad training camp in Oregon. (AP)

Radical Muslim preacher Abu Hamza has lodged an appeal at the European Court of Human Rights against its ruling that he can be extradited from Britain to the United States, the Home Office said Monday.

Britain’s interior ministry said the terror suspect had applied to have the judgment referred to the Strasbourg-based court’s Grand Chamber.

On April 10, the ECHR ruled that London could extradite Abu Hamza and four others to the United States, finding that their human rights would not be violated if they were extradited.

The court allowed a three-month stay for appeal, due to expire on Tuesday.

“The Home Secretary (Theresa May) welcomed the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights on April 10 to allow the extradition of Abu Hamza and four other terrorist suspects,” a Home Office spokeswoman told AFP.

“Abu Hamza has applied to have the judgment referred to the ECHR Grand Chamber. The judgment does not become final until a decision has been made on the application.

“The suspects remain in extradition custody.”

A spokesman for the Strasbourg-based court confirmed to AFP that Hamza’s lawyers had filed a request and that it was within the deadline.

“The extradition is blocked and a jury must now decide whether the Grand Chamber of the ECHR should take up the case,” he added.

Abu Hamza, the former imam of the Finsbury Park mosque in north London, is wanted in the United States on charges including setting up an al-Qaeda-style training camp for militants in the northwestern U.S. state of Oregon.

He is also accused of having sent money and recruits to assist Afghanistan’s hardline Taliban militia and al-Qaeda and helping a gang of kidnappers in Yemen who abducted a 16-strong party of Western tourists in 1998.

Hamza, who is in his mid-50s and has one eye and a hook for one hand, was jailed in Britain for seven years in 2006 for inciting followers to murder non-believers.

Hamza and the four other terror suspects having their case heard at the ECHR had claimed that the conditions at the ADX supermax prison in Florence, Colorado -- used for people convicted of terror offences -- and possible multiple life sentences they face would be grossly disproportionate and amount to inhuman or degrading treatment.

But the court held that “conditions at ADX would not amount to ill-treatment”.

It found that, given U.S. assurances, there was no real risk the men would either be designated as enemy combatants and be subject to the death penalty or subjected to extraordinary rendition.

“If the applicants were convicted as charged, the U.S. 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,” the court said.

“Besides, ADX inmates -- although confined to their cells for the vast majority of the time -- were provided with services and activities (such as) 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.”

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