Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Toenails Too Long?

Perhaps it's the latest in legal strategy:

The Egyptian-born radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masari, although under detention facing 16 charges including soliciting to murder, continues to be a major problem for the British authorities. In the latest incident, he refused to appear at the Old Bailey on Tuesday because he said his toenails were too long.

....He was to appear in the court on Tuesday, but the judge, lawyers and court official were kept waiting while the toenail drama unfolded out of their sight. Ultimately a prison officer informed the court that Hamza had refused to come out of his cell on the plea that he could not walk.

The defence counsel said Hamza felt he could not walk as he had been perambulating round the prison barefoot. Hamza has also been complaining that he received inadequate medical treatment for his disability-he has no arms and can see through only one eye-and diabetes.

The plot thickens:

TERROR suspect Abu Hamza has been given new hooks on the [National Health Service] - and a £30,000-a-year nurse to wipe his backside in jail.

The Muslim extremist, who has no hands, was fitted with special £5,000 replacement hooks because it was feared his original metal ones could be used as weapons.

He is unable to clean himself as he could do himself an injury. So prison officials have hired a male nurse named Harry to perform the task.

A prison source said: "He's known as 'Dirty Harry'. This guy has got one of the worst jobs in the world. His main reason for being there is to clean Hamza's backside. Everyone's having a laugh about it. But Hamza can't be left unclean. It would be a health hazard."

Hamza is being held in top-security Belmarsh jail, in South East London, as the US attempts to extradite him on terror charges.

The nurse - recruited from a private agency - spends up to two hours a day with him.
His other duties include helping the 47-year-old cleric to wash, cut his toenails, clip his beard and change his clothes.

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