Court allows extradition of Syrian arms dealer to US
26 October 2007, MADRID - (AFP) - A Spanish court authorised Friday the extradition of Syrian arms dealer Monzer al-Kassar to the United States on charges of conspiring to provide weapons to Colombian guerrillas.
26 October 2007
MADRID - (AFP) - A Spanish court authorised Friday the extradition of Syrian arms dealer Monzer al-Kassar to the United States on charges of conspiring to provide weapons to Colombian guerrillas.
US authorities say Al-Kassar agreed to sell machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, millions of rounds of ammunition and surface-to-air missile systems to the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) between 2006 and May this year.
New York prosecutors have charged him with conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a terrorist organisation, money laundering and conspiracy to acquire an anti-aircraft missile and kill US nationals.
Al-Kassar, a longtime resident of Spain, has been in jail since he was arrested on June 8 as he arrived at Madrid airport on an internal flight.
The decision of by the National Audience, which has jurisdiction over international crimes, is subject to appeal. If confirmed a final decision will fall on the Spanish government, a judicial source told AFP.
US prosecutors say the FARC wanted to use the weapons to fight US forces aiding Colombia in its battle against drug traffickers.
Kassar allegedly also offered 1,000 fighters, plastic explosives and detonators to use against US armed forces, who have been in Colombia since 2000 in what is officially an advisory capacity.
Al-Kassar, dubbed the "Prince of Marbella" because of his opulent lifestyle, faces life imprisonment if convicted.
At a court appearance earlier this month he denied the charges against him and vowed to fight his extradiction to the US, saying he did not believe he could get a fair trial there.
According to prosecutors, Kassar has been an arms dealer since the early 1970s, providing weapons and military equipment to groups in Nicaragua, Brazil, Cyprus, Bosnia, Croatia, Somalia, Iran, and Iraq.
He has also been the subject of judicial investigations in Switzerland and in Argentina, where he obtained citizenship due to his links with former president Carlos Menem.
Subject: Spanish news