Friday, 5 November 2010

Another "Disappointment"

A new chapter in the stupefying tale of hook-handed maniac Abu Hamza al-Masri, an almost reassuringly unambiguous figure in a world of increasingly greying morality. 

The notorious imam, who could quite easily pass for a Bond villain (he lacks the sympathetic origin story required for comic books), was once recorded explaining that "[a non-Muslim] ... is like a cow.  Boy, anybody [can] take him. ... Then he's a [sic] booty; you can sell him in the market.  If Muslims cannot take him, you know, and sell him in the market, then you just kill him.  It's OK."

This gives a taste of what one might have expected attending past sermons at Finsbury Park mosque, but of course Mr al-Masari is more than just a man with unpleasant religious views: the cleric is currently incarcerated because he is wanted for extradition to his Egyptian homeland, the United States and Yemen for his role in a number of terrorist plots.  (Though given a derisory seven year sentence by British courts in 2006 after being convicted on six charges of soliciting to murder and three charges of stirring up racial hatred, with further charges relating to possession of "terror manuals" and the production of terrorist propaganda thrown in, he was long ago eligible for release under the terms of Labour's 2003 Criminal Justice Act, which entitles prisoners to automatic release halfway through their sentences.)

No extradition has yet taken place because, despite his almost laughably palpable villainy, al-Masari – whose cost in council housing, NHS treatment, welfare payments, trials and legal appeals already stood at a minimum of £2.75 million as of early 2009 (we could now add the cost of be special bespoke taps, among other things), according to the Taxpayers' Alliance – has had an enthusiastic ally in the form of the European Court of Human Rights. 

First, they ruled nations subject to their authority could not deport or extradite anyone to countries where they could face the death penalty – which a clear majority of Britons think should be reintroduced here, actually – so much for respecting that all-important cultural diversity!  This ruled out Egypt and Yemen, but left the US, which was willing to give assurances to Britain, cast in the role of reluctant protector, that al-Masari would not be executed.  Quick as a painstakingly glacial legal flash, European judges issued another ruling: al-Masari could not be extradited to the States because there was a good chance he would be given a life sentence, and life sentences which actually involve spending your whole life imprisoned breach your human rights (watch this space for appeals by British murderers serving whole-life tariffs).  Additionally, American prisons were deemed as not being up to the five-star standard Europe demands for criminals, and so any sort of prison sentence could constitute "inhuman and degrading" treatment.

Our own masochistic legal system is nothing if not a quick learner, and so the latest news is that our old friends at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (who ruled that the clear and present danger presented to the public by terrorist Abid Naseer was trumped by Naseer's right not to possibly be handled without kid gloves by the Pakistani authorities, if you recall) have announced we are not allowed to take away al-Masari's passport.  Since the Egyptians have revoked his citizenship,we apparently have an obligation to ensure that the poor man doesn't end up "stateless".

The Prime Minister has reportedly expressed "disappointment", just as the Home Secretary did when the SIAC ruled on Naseer.  One wonders how much "disappointment" must be endured before it becomes the spur to change?

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