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European court upholds British life terms

Jan. 18, 2012 at 1:59 AM

LONDON, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- The European Court of Human Rights rejected an appeal Tuesday by three British convicted killers who challenged sentences that mean they will die in prison.

The court said the three are guilty of "particularly callous and inhumane murders," The Daily Telegraph reported. They included Jeffrey Bamber, 51, who was given a life sentence in 1981 for killing his adoptive parents, his sister and her two young sons.

The three appellants argued that whole-life sentences with little chance of release are inhumane.

Under current British law, judges impose life sentences for murder with a minimum term to be served in prison. With whole-life sentences, only the Justice Secretary can order an inmate's release.

Abu Hamza, a radical Islamic cleric now held in Britain, has filed a challenge with the European court against his extradition to the United States. His lawyers argue he should not be extradited because he faces life without parole in a U.S. prison.

The other challengers in the case decided Tuesday were Douglas Vinter, who was sentenced to life for killing his wife after he was released from a nine-year sentence for killing a work colleague, and Peter Moore, who killed four gay men.

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