The European Court of Human Rights announced its decision to allow Britain to extradite jailed radical Muslim preacher Abu Hamzaand and 4 other alleged terrorists to the United States Tuesday, according to Yahoo News.
The court determined that "there would be no violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights" as long as the prisoners, but were still granted a 3-month stay for an appeal.
The defendant's argued that the conditions at the ADX supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, used to house convicted terrorists, amounted to degrading or inhumane treatment. They also contended that the potential of receiving multiple life sentences was grossly disproportionate to their crimes committed.
Among the 5 who now may be extradited are:
- Mustafa Kamal Mustafa (known as Abu Hamza),
- Babar Ahmad,
- Syed Tahla Ahsan,
- Adel Abdul Bary and
- Khaled Al-Fawwaz.
The court observed that "conditions at ADX would not amount to ill-treatment".
The court adjourned the case of a 6th man, Haroon Rashid Aswat, amidst questions concerning his mental health.
Abu Hamza is wanted in the United States for, amongst other crimes, setting up an Al-Qaeda-style training camp for militant terrorists in northwestern Oregon, sending money and recruits to assist the Taliban and assisting kidnappers in Yemen in the abduction of Western tourists in 1998.
Hamza, was jailed in Britain for 7 years for encouraging followers to murder non-believers.
Although the court had previously backed off of extradition, it had a change of heart after the US gave assurances that there was no real risk that those extradited would be designated as enemy combatants and be subject to the death penalty.
"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," 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."
From 1999-2006 all 6 applicants were indicted on various terrorism charges in the United States.
Babar Ahmad, 37, has been accused of several felonies such as providing support to terrorists and conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim or injure persons or damage property in a foreign country.
He has been detained in Britain since 2004 pending extradition, which is the longest that a British citizen has been detained in Britain without trial in modern times.
Naturally, there are many who object to the treatment of Ahmad, including his father, Ashfaq Ahmad, who said that the family was disappointed and believed that his son should be allowed to go on trial in Britain immediately.
"Babar is a British citizen accused of a crime said to have been committed in the UK, and all the evidence against him was gathered in this country," he told reporters in London.
"Nevertheless, British justice appears to have been subcontracted to the US. This should be immediately rectified by putting Babar on trial in the UK and ordering a full public inquiry."
This is a complex matter where the decision of an international court regarding international matters overlaps with the rights of a British citizen who has been denied the right to trial within the confines of his own country.
The right to a trial is a right recognized not only in this country, but in Britain too. However, as we have seen in the past in times of war court's often times narrowly construe such rights in order to ensure national security measures.
Babar Ahmad as well as the other 4 will likely exercise their right to appeal the European court's decision.
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