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Lawyers concerned Damache's sentencing would not be 'proportional'

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Ali Charaf Damache: wanted by the US authorities

Ali Charaf Damache: wanted by the US authorities

Ali Charaf Damache: wanted by the US authorities

Lawyers for a man wanted in the US on terrorism charges have told the High Court that his sentencing in the US would not be 'proportional' to the alleged offences.

Ali Charaf Damache (49), an Algerian-born Irish citizen, previously with an address in Waterford, is wanted by the US authorities in connection with an alleged conspiracy to provide support to terrorists.

Mícheál P O'Higgins SC, for Mr Damache, said the absence of proportionality in terrorism cases in the US would amount to a breach of Mr Damache's constitutional rights.

Counsel submitted that US sentencing guidelines in terrorism cases would violate Mr Damache's constitutional rights to a fair trial and due process and he would likely face a 'de facto' life sentence.

He said that relating to Islamic terrorism crimes, federal sentencing had a conviction rate of 97% and he said there has never been a full acquittal.

If convicted in the US, Mr Damache could face up to 45 years in jail, a term his lawyers say would be 'a lot more' than could be imposed here in Ireland.

Mr O'Higgins submitted that the fundamental and constitutional norms in this jurisdiction are found 'wanting' in the US constitution, particularly in the facts of this case, he said.

Mr O’Higgins alluded to an affidavit from US lawyer Joshua Dratel who argued that proportionality is not a guided consideration in federal law with respect of crime and punishment. He previously said: 'Terrorism cases threaten higher sentences.'

The US alleges Mr Damache conspired with American woman Colleen LaRose, who used the online name Jihad Jane, and others to create a terror cell in Europe.

LaRose was sentenced last January to 10 years in prison after being convicted of planning to murder Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who had depicted the head of the Muslim prophet Mohammad on a dog.

It is the second time his extradition case has been heard. In November Mr Damache won an appeal at the Supreme Court for a judicial review of the DPP’s decision not to prosecute him in Ireland.

The case is now proceeding in front of Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly because the Supreme Court directed that a new judge hear it after Mr Justice John Edwards previously refused leave for judicial review.

Mr Damache, who has been living in Ireland for more than 10 years, is wanted on charges alleging conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and attempted identity theft to facilitate an act of international terrorism.

The extradition hearing will continues.

Online Editors