Abu Hamza trial to get under way11/01/2006 - 07:45:54
The trial of Muslim cleric Abu Hamza on race hate allegations - including soliciting murder – is due to start at the Old Bailey today.
Hamza, 47, from west London, faces nine charges under the Offences Against the Person Act of 1861 alleging he solicited others at public meetings to murder Jews and other non-Muslims.
He also faces four charges under the Public Order Act 1986 of “using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with the intention of stirring up racial hatred”.
A further charge alleges Hamza was in possession of video and audio recordings, which he intended to distribute to stir up racial hatred.
The final charge under section 58 of the Terrorism Act accuses him of possession of a document, the Encyclopaedia of the Afghani Jihad, which contained information “of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”.
He denies the charges. The offences are alleged to have been committed before May 2004.
Jurors were sworn in on Monday. A number of potential jurors had first been asked by the judge, Mr Justice Hughes, to declare if they or members of their immediate families were members of the security services or connected with investigations into terrorist activities in the UK.
They were also told that Hamza had “received a certain amount of media coverage” in the past.
“If you or members of your immediate family had any part in any of the media coverage in relation to this defendant, you should say so.”
Afterwards eight men and four women took the oath.
Hamza, who has no hands and only one eye, had sat flanked by three dock officers.
The bearded, bespectacled former imam of Finsbury Park mosque in north London had worn a light blue shirt and trousers. His grey hair was closely cut.
David Perry prosecutes and Edward Fitzgerald QC defends Hamza.
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