Ivorian authorities to extradite Youssouf Fofana

27th February 2006, Comments 0 comments

ABIDJAN, Feb 27, 2006 (AFP) - Ivorian judicial authorities Monday set in motion the process to extradite to France an alleged gang leader accused of the kidnap, torture and murder of a young Jewish man.

ABIDJAN, Feb 27, 2006 (AFP) - Ivorian judicial authorities Monday set in motion the process to extradite to France an alleged gang leader accused of the kidnap, torture and murder of a young Jewish man.

Paris last week issued an international arrest warrant and extradition request for Youssouf Fofana, who is believed to have fled France shortly after a Jewish cellphone vendor, Ilan Halimi, was found dying in the Paris suburbs on February 13.

Fofana, 25, arrested in Abidjan last Wednesday night, was moved before dawn Monday from jail to a court, which was to formally examine the French application and make a ruling, according to a French police source.

President Laurent Gbagbo will then have to sign the extradition decree and Fofana would be heading for France anytime after that, said the source close to the investigations.

Fofana, previously convicted of petty crime, reportedly confessed under interrogation by French and Ivorian police to the kidnapping but denies the murder, or that he was motivated by anti-Semitism.

Halimi, 23, was discovered naked, bound and gagged in the southern Paris suburb of Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois, where he had managed to crawl after being dumped nearby.

After being lured into a sex trap, he had been held for three weeks by a gang who sent ransom demands to his family, police said.

Gang-members allegedly tortured Halimi with beatings and cigarette burns, in the belief that as a Jew he would have money.

A total of 13 people have been placed under judicial investigation, including the young woman believed to have acted as the bait.

But all said that the mastermind was Fofana, a local crime boss of Ivorian origin but French nationality, who styled himself "brain of the barbarians."

The murder struck horror in France's 500,000-strong Jewish community, where it was widely assumed Halimi had been targeted because he was Jewish.

Tens of thousands of people protesting racism and anti-Semitism held marches in France on Sunday in memory of Halimi.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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