Thursday, January 18, 2007

Jailed radical Islamic cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri has been made liable for Legal Aid costs of more than £1m for his defence at an Old Bailey trial

BBC News:

The cleric was jailed for seven years in February 2006 for soliciting to murder and inciting racial hatred.

Abu Hamza might not be able to pay, an Old Bailey judge said, but his decision would allow the Legal Services Commission to seize his assets.

London-based Abu Hamza is seeking leave to appeal against the judgement.

Lord Justice Hughes accused Abu Hamza of lying to the court about his financial interests and made the order for the recovery of the full costs of the defence.

This will allow the Legal Services Commission to apply to seize a £220,000 house in Greenford, west London, which Abu Hamza had claimed belonged to his sister.

The judge, however, said he did not believe him.

Abu Hamza told the Old Bailey via video link that since his disability benefits were stopped in 2003, he had no assets and no access to money.

He said he had been living off handouts from family and friends.

But the court heard that Abu Hamza, whose wife and six children live in a council house, was still contributing to private school fees of £9,000 a year.

An investigation was carried out by the Legal Services Commission following reports that Abu Hamza bought the property in Greenford in October 2004 while in jail despite his assets being frozen by the Treasury under anti-terrorism measures.

Designated terror suspects are not permitted to transfer any forms of funds or assets, including property, the government has said.

Abu Hamza, a preacher at Finsbury Park Mosque in London, was convicted of 11 of the 15 charges he faced.

During his trial, lawyers argued his case was prejudiced by "unique" world events and a media hate-campaign.

Hamza liable for £1m legal aid costs


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