The fate of extremist cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri was decided by the European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday, when the court ruled Britain can extradite the extremist to the U.S. to face terrorism charges.
In 2010 the European Court put a spanner in the attempts of the British government to extradite the hook-handed cleric, saying it needed longer to review a possible breach of Hamza's human rights. Currently Hamza is serving a seven-year prison sentence in Britain for soliciting to murder and inciting racial hatred.
The Egyptian born cleric who was granted British citizenship, is infamous for his time as preacher at London's Finsbury mosque. He is wanted in the U.S. on charges of promoting violent jihad in Afghanistan and in connection to the taking of 16 hostages in Yemen.
Attempts to extradite Hamza were delayed over European concerns that he could be sentenced to possible life imprisonment without parole and solitary confinement, in the U.S. Concerns were raised that a U.S. prison could represent a severe punishment due to conditions in maximum security. According to the Guardian the U.S.has given written assurances that Hamza will not be given the death sentence or placed before a Guantanamo style military tribunal.
The decision to allow the extradition of Hamza and five other terror suspects was greeted warmly by Prime Minister David Cameron who said “It is quite right that we have proper legal processes, although sometimes one can get frustrated with how long they take." However, the legal process will be stalled yet again as Hamza has been given the right to appeal Tuesday's ruling before the grand chamber of the European court.
Britain had faced criticism from the U.S. in complying with European law to the detriment of U.S. interests. John Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.said on Monday
“Britain should renounce the jurisdiction of this court. It’s a question of what do British people want to do? Do you want to be an independent nation, or do you want to be a county in Europe?
This is just another example of Britain’s mistake in allowing European institutions to develop to the extent they have. It is yet another infringement on British sovereignty that undercuts its ability to cooperate with the United States.It also calls into question the ability of Europe as a whole to be an effective partner in the war against terrorism." (Telegraph) His sentiments mirror those of many in the U.K. who deplore the governments inability to deal with unwanted terrorists such as Hamza and Abu Qatada. Last month the European court refused to allow the extradition of Qatada to Jordan, ruling it would breach his human rights.