“When this individual has finished serving his sentence, he will be expelled from Italian soil,” Maroni stated.
Imad is currently detained at Benevento jail in southern Italy.
Maroni’s announcement came a day after 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.
A member of the Muslim community in Italy’s Lombardy surrounding Milan, Muhammad Rida al-Badri, said Italian authorities had granted asylum to Imam, who is reportedly close to Egypt’s Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, to prevent him being extradited to Egypt as Cairo had requested.
“Abu Imad first asked for political asylum in Italy 17 years ago,” said al-Badri. “He has now been given political asylum because they want to keep him in jail in Italy for several reasons, and one of these is to avoid any criticism from the European Union that he should be handed over to Egypt.”
Imad’s own lawyer, Carmelo Scambia, said on Thursday he was “amazed” at the granting of asylum to his client, which Imad had requested in 1995.
Imad was until March last year an imam at the northern Italian city of Milan’s central mosque, which has been linked to Islamist terrorism several times.
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-defendants were also jailed.
The cell’s mission is believed to have been recruiting suicide bombers, trafficking illegal immigrants and to have been responsible for indoctrination of recruits in radical jihadist ideology.