UK to finally hand France Paris bombings suspect

9th June 2005, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, June 8 (AFP) - Britain's Home Secretary Charles Clarke ordered the extradition to France of an Algerian national, Rachid Ramda, suspected of having financed deadly bombings in Paris in 1995, an official said Wednesday.

LONDON, June 8 (AFP) - Britain's Home Secretary Charles Clarke ordered the extradition to France of an Algerian national, Rachid Ramda, suspected of having financed deadly bombings in Paris in 1995, an official said Wednesday.  

Clarke ordered Ramda's "surrender to the French authorities" on April 6, nine years after Paris had made the first request, the Home Office said, adding the case had languished until Britain adopted new extradition laws in 2003.  

Lawyers representing Ramda, whom the French consider the financier of Algeria's Armed Islamic Group (GIA), have informed the Home Office of their intention to appeal the move, a spokeswoman at the Home Office said.  

The 35-year-old was arrested in Britain in November 1995, four months after the bombing of the RER commuter rail service in Paris that left eight people died and 168 injured.  

Subsequent attacks in the French capital and other cities left dozens hurt.  

"We are in very close contact with Rachid Ramda's solicitors," the Home Office spokeswoman said. "They have informed us that they want to apply to a judicial review, which is an appeal against the Home Office's decision."  

Ramda's representatives have until July 5 to appeal, which will be heard by the High Court, the spokeswoman said. Ramda will remain in custody in Britain pending the appeal process.  

"We are very concerned about how long the case has taken. We want to bring an end to this very important phase," she added.  

French investigating magistrates have complained in the past of a lack of cooperation by Britain.  

The Home Office spokeswoman blamed the delay on constraints caused by a 1989 law, which was replaced by a new law in 2003, in the wake of the September 11 attacks in the United States in 2001.  

There was no immediate explanation why the Home Office did not announce its decision to extradite when it was made two months earlier.  

Supporters of a campaign to stop Ramda's extradition believe he may eventually be deported from France to Algeria, where they fear he could face execution.  

They have also lobbied against his continued incarceration in Britain, citing what they call his declining mental and physical health.  

In a letter to campaigners last October, Ramda wrote from prison: "Despite being crippled by the manacles of injustice and despite languishing in the corners of the British gulag, I find myself overwhelmed by the amount of your support and engulfed by your warm kindness."

 

© AFP

Subject: French News

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