News24

Cleric's home seized

2010-02-09 21:15

London - British legal aid authorities have seized the London home of jailed radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza to recover costs spent on defending him, they said on Tuesday.

The Egyptian-born former imam, who has one eye and a hook for one hand, was jailed for seven years in 2007 for inciting followers to murder non-believers, and is fighting extradition to the US.

The Legal Services Commission (LSC) said it had seized the property in Greenford, west London, and hopes to sell it to pay off some of the £300 000 ($470 000) spent on him.

The LSC "can confirm it has taken possession of Abu Hamza's property, as a contribution to recovering the legal aid costs spent on his defence", said LSC chief executive Carolyn Regan.

"The LSC will not tolerate people trying to conceal their financial assets in an attempt to have their defence costs paid for by the taxpayer," she added.

Abu Hamza is wanted in the US on charges including setting up an al-Qaeda-style training camp for militants in the northwest state of Oregon.

He is also accused of sending money and recruits to assist Afghanistan's hard-line former rulers the Taliban and al-Qaeda and helping a gang of kidnappers in Yemen who abducted a 16-strong party of Western tourists in 1998.

"Legal aid is a vital public resource and we are committed to ensuring it is spent on those who most need help with their legal problems and can least afford it," added Regan.