A tale of two extraditions

Abu HamzaAbu Hamza

This scarecrow of a suit has, in course of time, become so complicated that no man alive knows what it means. The parties to it understand it least.. Jarndyce and Jarndyce. Bleak House by Charles Dickens.

The complexities of our legal system are fast approaching those of countries such as Italy. Cases wend their way at glacial speed the courts, earning the legal profession vast sums. Cause célèbres are printed in our papers for days, then die only to reappear at intervals of several years.

So, we have the cases of Gary McKinnon and Abu Hamza. The former an engaging computer nerd who has hacked into American computers searching for UFOs and hoping to discover a pure power source,used by UFOs, that will save the world. The other a grotesque fanatic, terrorist and killer. Both have been battling extradition to the USA for years.

Abu Hamza was convicted in February 2006 of 11 of the 15 charges he faced in the UK.

November 2007 - A judge at City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court approved a request by the American Government for Abu Hamza to be transferred to the US to face charges of organising a global conspiracy to wage jihad against America and its allies.

February 2008 - The Home Secretary Jacqui Smith approved Hamza's extradition and he was refused leave to appeal to the Law Lords, the highest court in England and Wales.

June 2008 - Two High Court judges sitting in London ruled that the decision to extradite Hamza was "unassailable" but they also gave his lawyers 14 days to apply for leave to make a last ditch appeal to the House of Lords.
Gary McKinnonGary McKinnon
July 2008 - lost appeal to the House of Lords.

August 2008 - The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg gave the British Government the order to postpone extradition of Abu Hamza until a ruling on whether sending him to a maximum security US jail would breach his human rights, as the 48-year-old's lawyers claimed he would be kept in inhumane conditions.

He faces 11 charges in total, including sending cash and recruits to al-Qaeda and the Taliban and one relating to the kidnap of 16 tourists in the Yemen in 1998. Four hostages, including three Britons, died in a rescue attempt.

So, we might as well have saved our money and asked our really Supreme Court in Strasbourg for a decision. As a Home Office spokesperson said: "The decision is a matter for the European Court. We shall seek to have his case expedited so it is heard as soon as possible."

Gary Mckinnon faces up to 60 years in a high security jail, has been living in a legal nightmare for 7 years and also has human rights. He, however, was refused the right to appeal to The European Court of Human Rights. This was the same month that the same court accepted Abu Hamza's right to appeal.