Hamza ‘too disabled for US prison’

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Published: Saturday 3rd January 2015 by The News Editor

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London hate preacher Abu Hamza should be sent to a prison medical centre because he is too disabled to spend life behind bars at a high-security US jail for terrorism offences, his lawyers say.

Lawyers for Hamza, also known as Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, argue that by sentencing him to life at the Colorado prison, the United States would be reneging on assurances to UK judges over the Egyptian to secure his 2012 extradition to America.

Hamza, 56, who preached at Finsbury Park Mosque, was convicted in May of aiding terrorists who kidnapped tourists in Yemen in 1998 and others who plotted to open a terror training camp in Oregon. Federal sentencing guidelines call for a life term.

In court papers last week, Hamza’s lawyers said he would face unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment if his amputated forearms, psoriasis, diabetes and high blood pressure were not taken into account at his January 9 sentencing in Manhattan. They have recommended a prison term of less than life.

While acknowledging Hamza had been convicted of participating in “terrible crimes”, defence lawyers said his failure to successfully challenge extradition to the United States while incarcerated in England from 2004 to 2012 was “directly attributable” to sworn statements, concessions and promises made by the US government during extradition proceedings.

But prosecutors responded in court papers that the government never promised the UK that Hamza would not be assigned to the prison.

They also insisted life in prison was the only appropriate sentence, saying Hamza “waged a global war of jihad against those that he considered infidels. He sent men to American soil to learn how to fight and kill in support of that war”.

Prosecutors also submitted a letter from Jeffery Allen, chief of health programmes for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, who said Hamza would be given a full evaluation at a medical centre and assessed by a prosthetic specialist after he was sentenced.

Mr Allen said there were special cells for those with disabilities and if the prison would not address Hamza’s health needs, he would be moved to a prison medical care facility.

Defence lawyers told the judge Hamza could not carry out routine daily living tasks and risked infection and amputation.

Published: Saturday 3rd January 2015 by The News Editor

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