U.S. judge rules Hamas leader can be extradited

May 8, 1996
Web posted at: 11 p.m EDT (0300 GMT)

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A federal district judge ruled Wednesday that Mousa Mohammad Abu Marzook, the jailed political leader of Hamas, can be extradited to Israel for trial.

Marzook, a 45-year-old Palestinian, was detained July 25 in New York as he tried to re-enter the United States.

He had recently been added to a list of suspected terrorists and is wanted in Israel on charges of murder, attempted murder, and conspiracy connected to a number of shootings and bombings.

Marzook contended that he was not in the United States when arrested, that there was no evidence of criminal liability against him under New York law, and that the crimes Israel accuses him of were not extraditable offenses.

Marzook also said he should not be extradited because he also fell under the "political offense exception" under international extradition law. He contends he was being targeted because he admitted to being the head of the political wing of Hamas.

U.S. District Judge Kevin Duffy rejected all those arguments, saying that the conspiracy charge leveled against Marzook was grounds enough for his extradition. Duffy said there is sufficient evidence to show Marzook was a member of the conspiracy that led to the crimes.

Marzook's lawyer said the order came sooner than expected, but says he knew his client would lose because Judge Duffy so quickly brushed aside defense arguments about manufactured evidence.

"It's almost as if the judge just said, 'Well, don't bother me. This is all irrelevant.' The minutia of an extradition process apparently was much too boring for the court," said Marzook's attorney, Stanley Cohen.

Among the 10 Israeli charges, Marzook is accused of involvement in the bombing of a bus in Tel Aviv in October 1994. Twenty-two people died in the bombing and 46 were injured.

Cohen has said in the past he would appeal any extradition order. He told CNN Wednesday that he would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.

Marzook is being held at the Manhattan Metropolitan Correctional Center. Marzook, who has a home, business and family in Virginia, admitted he headed the political wing of Hamas, but denied involvement in bombings or other violence. Even if his appeals to higher courts fail, he may not be seen in Israel for several more years.

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