Jurors at the trial of radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri on Wednesday began to consider their verdict on charges of inciting murder of Jews and other non-Muslims and fomenting racial hatred. The Egyptian-born cleric, 47, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted. He has pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors at London's Central Criminal Court have played the jury a series of speeches given by al-Masri, the former imam at London's Finsbury Park mosque and Britain's best-known Islamist orator, in which they allege he seeks to incite racial hatred.
The mosque has been linked to a number of terrorist suspects, including alleged Sept. 11, 2001, plotter Zacarias Moussaoui and "shoe bomber" Richard Reid.
Edward Fitzgerald, al-Masri's defense lawayer, told jurors that although some of what the firebrand preacher had said was offensive and "a bit over the top," he was not "intending to incite anybody to do anything specific."
He said the case against al-Masri, who has no hands and only one eye, was a "rag bag" of allegations.
Directing the jury to retire to consider verdicts, Judge Anthony Hughes summarized parts of al-Masri's defense.
"He denies that at any stage did he encourage his listeners to kill anybody or murder anybody," Hughes said.
"He told you that he stood by every ideology set out in these speeches. He explained to you the job of the scholar was to understand current events and apply the appropriate Quaranic law, which can never change", reports the AP.
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