Indicted Imam to receive new prosthetics in U.S. jail

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 26, 2012 5:42 PM
Indicted Imam to receive new prosthetics in U.S. jail

By Grant McCool

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A radical Islamist cleric facing U.S. terrorism charges will be outfitted with new prosthetics after authorities refused to allow him to wear metal hooks in place of his missing hands when he is outside of his jail cell, his lawyer said on Friday.

The Egyptian-born preacher, Abu Hamza al-Masri, who is missing both hands and his right eye, appeared in Manhattan federal court for the third time since his October 6 extradition to the United States from Britain as prosecutors and lawyers discussed procedure with the judge.

Hamza's lawyer, Jeremy Schneider, told reporters outside the courtroom his client would have his prosthetics changed on Tuesday. Schneider said the prosthetics he is allowed to wear, only inside the maximum security jail cell where he is being held, cause pain and irritation on his skin.

"I have no idea what the new prosthetics look like," Schneider said. Hamza, known for his signature metal hooks, appeared in court without prosthetics on Friday, his arms visibly red.

The white-haired and white bearded cleric, who has asked to be referred to in court by his birthname, Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, pleaded not guilty to 11 criminal charges on October 9.

He is being held in the maximum security section, known as South 10, of the Metropolitan Correctional Center next door to the courthouse in lower Manhattan.

Hamza was accused in 2004 of participating in hostage-taking in Yemen in 1998 that led to the deaths of three Britons and an Australian. U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest set a trial date of August 26, 2013.

He is also charged with providing material support to the al Qaeda network by trying to set up a training camp in Oregon and attempting to organize support for the Taliban in Afghanistan.

On Friday, Forrest asked both sides about the potential size and scope of the case, which spans 14 years and three continents. Federal prosecutor Edward Kim said 47 boxes of documents and evidence would need to be shipped from Britain.

Schneider requested more lawyers to work on the case and said his client would help in preparing his defense. The judge said the defense could have two law firm partners, two associates and two paralegals, "resources to put on a full and fair defense." She scheduled the next hearing for December 14.

The cleric fought extradition for eight years. He was flown to the United States from Britain along with four other men also wanted on U.S. terrorism charges.

The cases are U.S. v. Mustafa Kamel Mustafa and U.S. v. Khalid al-Fawwaz and Adel Abdul Bary, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Nos. 04-cr-00356 and 98-cr-1023.

(Reporting By Grant McCool; editing by Todd Eastham)