High Security Jail would be Cruel and Unusual Punishment for Abu Hamza, Lawyers Claim

Credit: AP

Lawyers for the notorious hate preacher Abu Hamza are arguing that he should not be sent to a high security jail following his conviction for terrorism offences, as he is disabled and might pick up an infection. Instead they want Hamza, who has one eye and both forearms missing, to be assessed by a prison medical centre so that his needs can be met.

Hamza, 56, preached at Finsbury Park Mosque in London before his extradition to the United States in 2012. Last May he was convicted by an American court of aiding terrorists who kidnapped tourists in Yemen in 1998, and another group of terrorists who plotted to open a terror training camp in Oregon, USA. He is due to be sentenced this coming Friday, the Mail on Sunday has reported.

Prosecutors are calling for life imprisonment, saying in the court papers that 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”.

However, his lawyers argue that Hamza would suffer a cruel and unusual punishment, ruled illegal by the US constitution, if his multiple health issues, including amputated forearms, missing eye, psoriasis (a skin condition), diabetes and high blood pressure were not taken into account when sentencing. They have told the judge that Hamza would be unable to carry out routine daily living tasks without risking infection and possible further amputations.

They also argue that the US government made certain promises to Hamza when seeking his extradition; a claim refuted by the prosecution lawyers, who have countered that the government never promised that Hamza wouldn’t be assigned to a high security prison in Colorado.

In addition, the prosecution lawyers have submitted a letter from from Jeffery Allen, chief of health programmes for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, who has attested that Hamza will be given a full medical evaluation, including for the fitting of prosthetics if required. Mr Allen also says that the prison has special cells for those with disabilities, and that if the prison is unable to meet his needs, Hamza will be moved to a nearby prison medical care facility.