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Why has it taken Britain eight years to extradite Abu Hamza?

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The comments by Lord Judge were welcomed by MPs as well as news outlets that have focused on the cost to the tax-payer of providing legal aid to Hamza and channeled anger at perceived foot-dragging by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), which ruled back in 2008 that extradition could not take place until it examined the case. 

Hamza had argued that his extradition to the US, where he could face a life sentence in a supermax prison if convicted, would run afoul of European human rights prohibitions against torture and ill treatment.

Julian Knowles, one of an elite group of barristers with the title of Queen's Counsel, says “a lot of the problems that have arisen here, and which have required litigation, are to do with just how savage the US sentencing system is and that gave the basis for Hamza to go to the European Court and say: ‘I will be held, if I am convicted, in solitary confinement, for the rest of my life in very harsh conditions, with probably no possibility of parole. I am a disabled man and have no arms and there will be very little granted to me to alleviate that.' ”

In April, the Strasbourg court ruled there would be "no violation" of the rights of Hamza and a number of others if they were put on trial in the US. And on Monday, the ECHR rejected the men's appeal, clearing the way for a possible end to the long legal saga.

After failing in Europe, Hamza is making a final stand in England, where judges issued an interim injunction Wednesday blocking the extradition and granting a court hearing for an appeal. Hamza’s legal team must show that there is some new and compelling factor that has not been already considered by previous court hearings.

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