Italy: Jailed imam's lawyer 'amazed' at asylum

Milan, 27 May (AKI) - The Italian government's decision to grant political asylum to convicted terrorist Abu Imad has astonished his defence lawyer. "I am very surprised, in fact amazed, considering the crime for which he has been convicted," said Carmelo Scambia.

The former imam at Milan's central mosque was jailed in April and will have to serve the first eight months his sentence in prison before being allowed to do community service, Scambia said.

Imad has since 12 May been held in Benevento jail in southern Italy, Adnkronos has learned. He was initially detained in Milan's San Vittore prison.

A former preacher at Milan's central mosque, Imad was arrested in April after Italy's top appeals court upheld a previous sentence and jailed him for three years and eight months.

"A press and political campaign has been going on for years against the viale Jenner mosque," said Scambia, referring to Milan's central mosque.

The mosque has been linked to Islamist terrorism several times but has so far managed to avoid closure.

Imad was granted asylum two weeks after Italy's highest court, the Court of Cassation on 28 April upheld a previous prison sentence imposed on Imad by a Milan court in December 2007.

Imad and 10 other defendants had allegedly set up a Salafite cell that was active in Milan and elsewhere in the northern Lombardy region. Imad's co-defendents were also jailed.

The cell's mission is believed to have been recruiting suicide bombers, trafficking illegal immigrants and responsible for indoctrination.


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