Eur. Court Blocks Transfer of Terror Suspects Due to Supermax Concerns

The European Court of Human Rights yesterday blocked the transfer to the U.S. of four suspected terrorists. The grounds: They might get sent to Supermax in Florence, CO which has inhumane conditions.

Egyptian-born Hamza, a former imam of the once-notorious Finsbury Park mosque in north London who has one eye and a hook for one hand, is serving a seven-year jail term for inciting followers to murder non-believers.

The other men in jail awaiting extradition are British nationals Babar Ahmad, Haroon Rashid Aswat and Seyla Talha Ahsan.

Interestingly, the court rejected their claims that their designation as enemy combatants could lead to the death penalty, and that their trials would be unjust. It was the Supermax argument that won the day.

[T]heir complaints "concerning the stringency of conditions there for what could be the rest of their lives, raised serious questions of fact and law". [More...]

Abu Hamza is unlikely to be held long-term at Supermax for health reasons, but as to the other three, facing life without parole, the Court found:

That raised concerns about breaches of Article 3 of the Human Rights Code on torture and inhuman or degrading treatment: "Their complaints under Article 3 concerning the stringency of conditions there for what could be the rest of their lives [raise] serious questions of fact and law of such complexity that the Court [has] to examine them on their merits," said the judges.

Among the conditions deemed unacceptable: prolonged solitary confinement.

Abu Hamza won a similar stay in 2008.

The decision is a temporary one, and the Court said it wanted more arguments before making a final ruling. The men will remain in custody in Great Britain until a final decision is made.

Objections have been lodged as to Abu Hamza's extradition for years. Here's one Harvard professor's reasons.

Abu Hamza was fingered by U.S. terror suspect James Ujaama of Seattle (originally from Denver.) What I've always wanted to know is if the U.S. confused Abu Hamza al-Masri (blind in one eye with hooks for hands) with the innocent Hamzi el-Masri, (also spelled al-Masri), the German shoe salesman who was plucked off a street in Macedonia, flown on Ghost Air to some secret detention center where he was kept and tortured. Condoleeza Rice eventually ordered his release with an apology.It wouldn't be the first time.

When the U.S. and Secretary of State Rice apologized, saying it was a case of mistaken identity, the New York Times wrote:

Authorities believed he was a member of Al Qaeda who had trained at one of Osama bin Laden's camps in Afghanistan. But within several months they concluded he was the victim of mistaken identity, the officials said. His name was similar to a Qaeda suspect on an international watch list of possible terrorist operatives, they said.

The U.S. indictment of Abu Hamzi, the London-based cleric, for attempting to set up a terrorist training camp in Oregon, hostage taking, conspiracy to take hostages, and providing material support to al Qaeda and the Taliban is here.

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  • Display: Sort:
    I am glad there (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by JamesTX on Fri Jul 09, 2010 at 09:47:06 AM EST
    is someone in the world who recognizes there are limits on what can be ethically done to people. In our race to satisfy blood thirsty teevee audiences who want prison to be Dante's Inferno for ever and ever, someone needs to step in with limits.

    Well said sir... (none / 0) (#2)
    by kdog on Fri Jul 09, 2010 at 09:58:37 AM EST
    and well done European Court of Human Rights.

    And lest anyone call it anti-americanism, don't get it twisted...it's a pro-humanity ruling, and a proper one.



    Old Europe..... (none / 0) (#3)
    by squeaky on Fri Jul 09, 2010 at 11:18:15 AM EST
    Rears its ugly head again.... when will they get with the program.... lol

    I have long been very puzzled (none / 0) (#4)
    by Peter G on Fri Jul 09, 2010 at 03:39:11 PM EST
    as to why there are so few court decisions in the federal district court for Colorado, and none in the supervising Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, addressing the legality of the conditions of confinement at AdMax Florence, or the procedures used for deciding who goes there, how long he stays, or how/when/if he gets out and back to a "normal" prison.  Any idea why that is, TL?

    i think we have (none / 0) (#5)
    by cpinva on Fri Jul 09, 2010 at 05:06:18 PM EST
    the perfect candidate (Hamza) to play "Captain Hook", in the Supermax version of "Peter Pan".

    let europe pay (none / 0) (#6)
    by diogenes on Fri Jul 09, 2010 at 06:33:11 PM EST
    Unless Europe plans to release these guys who would otherwise qualify for Supermax then I guess they're stuck with housing them in their own prisons.  Since many more terror acts have occurred in Europe than here, I suppose that it's Europe's judgment whether they want these guys to be cut loose.

    well, (none / 0) (#7)
    by cpinva on Sat Jul 10, 2010 at 05:14:50 AM EST
    europe is a lot closer to where the terrorists are then we are. given that reality, i'll leave it to their judgment, as to what to do with them.