NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors on Friday urged a federal judge to sentence London imam Abu Hamza al-Masri to life in prison following his conviction on terrorism charges.
In a court filing ahead of his Jan. 9 sentencing, prosecutors said Abu Hamza should be held accountable for his role as a “global terrorist leader who orchestrated plots around the world to further his deadly mission.”
“The seriousness of this defendant’s offenses and the need for just punishment and deterrence cannot be overstated,” prosecutors under Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara wrote.
A jury convicted Abu Hamza, 56, in May on all counts he faced in one of two high-profile terrorism trials conducted in the Manhattan federal courthouse last year.
Prosecutors charged the one-eyed, handless Abu Hamza with providing a satellite phone and advice to Yemeni militants who kidnapped Western tourists in 1998, an operation that led to the deaths of four hostages.
Abu Hamza also was accused of dispatching two followers to Oregon to establish a militant training facility and sending an associate to Afghanistan to help al Qaeda and the Taliban.
At trial, his lawyers claimed the case relied largely on the incendiary language in his sermons at London’s Finsbury Park mosque, which earned him notoriety as one of Britain’s most prominent radical Islamic voices.
But prosecutors in Friday’s court filing said Abu Hamza was “far more than just a talker” and argued he should be held accountable for putting “his words of hate into action.”
Lawyers for Abu Hamza declined to comment. But in a court filing last week, they told U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest a non-life sentence would be “appropriate” in light of mitigating circumstances.
The defense lawyers also argued that the judge require Abu Hamza be designated to a federal medical center and have accommodations fashioned to ensure he receives fair treatment while in custody.
Prosecutors have asked Forrest to defer to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, which in a separate court filing said it had adequate procedures in place to ensure Abu Hamza receives necessary medical accommodations.
Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker