Britain orders extradition of Algerian banker

28th April 2010, Comments 0 comments

Britain ordered Wednesday the extradition of former bank chief Rafik Khalifa to Algeria, where he has been sentenced to life in prison over a massive embezzlement scandal, the Home Office said.

Khalifa's lawyer said she would appeal the decision to send her client home, three years after he was sentenced in absentia by an Algerian court over fraud and embezzlement offences related to the collapse of the bank he founded.

"The home secretary has decided today to order Rafik Khalifa's extradition," a Home Office spokesman said, adding: "A letter setting out the full reasons for that decision has been sent to Rafik Khalifa's solicitors."

Anita Vasisht, who is representing Khalifa, told AFP that Home Secretary Alan Johnson had "accepted the diplomatic assurances from Algeria" about her client's safety on his return.

They had 14 days to lodge an appeal, and she said: "We are going to appeal."

Khalifa started living in exile in London in 2003 after hundreds of millions of dollars (euros) were discovered missing from the Khalifa Bank, until then Algeria's largest private bank.

He was detained in Britain under a European arrest warrant issued by a court in France, which was also seeking to extradite him over allegations of embezzlement from the Khalifa Group and French-registered subsidiaries.

A British court approved his extradition in June 2009 and Johnson was supposed to make a decision by October, but was granted four extensions. The latest extension was due to expire on Friday.

© 2010 AFP

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