Abu Hamza’s health deteriorating, say lawyers fighting extradition

LEGAL experts representing radical cleric Abu Hamza have claimed his health is deteriorating as they launched an 11th hour attempt to prevent him being extradited to the United States to face terrorism charges.

The lawyers have maintained medical tests could establish that he is unfit to plead and should not be extradited to America to face trial.

Hamza is one of a number of terror suspects who yesterday launched a last-ditch legal challenge at London’s High Court 
to halt extradition after the European Court of Human Rights refused to intervene over their removal.

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A QC for the Home Secretary is arguing that the challenges, which mostly come at the end of marathon legal battles, are abuses of process as all the points now raised could have been raised months or even years earlier and have no merit.

Sir John Thomas, president of the Queen’s Bench Division, and Mr Justice Ouseley are hearing the latest legal points over the next few days. Yesterday, the first day of the hearing, Sir John expressed concern that the extradition battle – also involving high-profile terror suspects Babar Ahmad, Syed Ahsan, Khaled Al-Fawwaz and Adel Abdul Bary – was threatening to “go on and on and on”.

He was told that Ahmad and Ahsan are mounting a fresh challenge to Monday’s refusal by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to sanction a private prosecution against them in the UK, which would mean them avoiding extradition.

Sir John said the new DPP challenge should be considered this afternoon, adding: “If these points are good points, let’s get it all out now. Otherwise these cases will go on and on and on.”

Hamza’s QC, Alun Jones, is arguing that there is “uncontradicted medical opinion” that a MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan is “medically necessary” for the cleric and a temporary injunction should be granted to allow it to be carried out.

Mr Jones says in papers submitted to the court that, if tests establish that Hamza is unfit to plead, it will be contended that it would 
be “oppressive” to extradite 
him under the 2003 Extradition Act.

The QC says a judge referred to Hamza’s “very poor health” at an extradition hearing in 2008. Since then his condition may have deteriorated further.

James Eadie QC, appearing for the Home Secretary, said all the applications before the court had
been brought too late and had been “stored up” to cause unnecessary delay and amounted to an abuse of process.

The hearing continues today.