High Court reserves judgement over Abu Hamza's health

 

The High Court reserved judgment today on a plea by radical cleric Abu Hamza, who is fighting extradition to the US, to have further medical tests.

His QC said an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) brain scan could establish that he is unfit to plead and should not be extradited to face trial on terrorism charges.

Alun Jones QC told two judges in London that Hamza's health is "deteriorating" and he is suffering from long-term depression, inability to concentrate and short-term memory loss.

Sir John Thomas, President of the Queen's Bench Division, said the court would give its ruling at a later date.

Hamza is one of five terror suspects who have launched last-ditch legal challenges at the court after the European Court of Human Rights refused to stop their US extradition.

Lawyers for the 54-year-old former imam at Finsbury Park mosque in north London are asking Sir John and Mr Justice Ouseley to continue an injunction preventing extradition pending tests recommended by two doctors.

Mr Jones said the application was not "a device" to avoid removal. Hamza is suffering from long-standing clinical depression as a result of being held for more than eight years in "harsh, utterly unacceptable conditions" in the high-security unit at Belmarsh prison in south-east London.

He is suffering from Type 2 diabetes, extensive psoriasis and sweating as well as the depressive effects of long-term sleep deprivation linked to being woken by prison guards every hour of the night.

Mr Jones said a scan could establish whether he is suffering from some organic, degenerative condition affecting his ability to concentrate on legal proceedings, and thus his fitness to plead.

James Eadie QC, appearing for the Home Secretary, argued that Hamza's medical condition is long-standing and today's application could have been brought earlier in the European Court.

There is now no reason why he should not be extradited as he could receive treatment, if necessary, in the US, which is where any issue over his fitness to plead could also be raised.

Mr Jones suggested that Hamza would have been allowed the test - the only issue currently standing between him and extradition - "if this case was not one of such public notoriety concerning a person who has become a pantomime villain".

After hearing legal submissions in the Hamza case, and reserving their judgment, the judges continued hearing submissions on behalf of the other terror suspects.

The judges announced that they expect to give a ruling on Friday.

Mr James Edie QC, for the Home Secretary, said if the judges ruled in her favour then that "effectively is the end" - as no further appeal was available in criminal cases.

Mr Edie agreed with Sir John that if the action goes against the applicants he will be saying to the court that "the Secretary of State will be entitled to move instantly".

PA

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower