Fugitive Cyprus tycoon returning to Britain to face trial
One of Britain's most high-profile fugitives was returning from northern Cyprus to face justice after 17 years' exile Thursday amid claims that he stole millions of pounds from his collapsed firm.
Former Polly Peck boss Asil Nadir, 69, decided to come back from the Turkish-controlled north of the island, which has no extradition treaty with Britain, after being assured he could remain on bail during his trial.
In its heyday, Polly Peck was one of Britain's biggest companies with interests in sectors from textiles to electronics.
It collapsed in 1990 and three years later, Nadir was charged with 66 counts of theft involving 34 million pounds. He fled before his trial but denies any wrongdoing.
Nadir said he had faced an "injustice" but insisted there had been "no deal" to pave the way for his return to Britain.
"I feel it is time now to have a closure to this in a most acceptable way," Nadir told Britain's Sky News television en route to Britain. "It cannot continue in this manner".
In an interview with The Times newspaper, he added that he was in a "determined" mood ahead of his return.
"I am very happy that what I have been striving for for many years is finally coming to fruition -- to be able to go to England without any unnecessary threat of arrest and to be given the chance to put my case," he said.
The tycoon is due to arrive Thursday at Luton airport, north of London, on board a plane carrying a small number of passengers including his 26-year-old wife Nur, lawyers and members of his personal staff.
Nadir is due to appear at London's Central Criminal Court, known as the Old Bailey, on September 3 for a preliminary hearing when a date for his full trial is likely to be set.
However, the trial itself will probably be lengthy and take place in 2011.
A court decided last month he would not face arrest if he comes back but would be subject to a number of bail conditions.
These include that Nadir gives officials advance notice of his arrival in Britain, deposits a security of 250,000 pounds (around 300,000 euros, 390,000 dollars) with the court and agrees to wear a tag allowing police to monitor his movements.
Nadir had been a donor to the Conservative Party before he fled Britain. The party was in power when he left the country and came back into office in May this year as part of a coalition government.
In 1993, a minister in then prime minister John Major's government, Michael Mates, resigned over his links with Nadir.
Mates, who once gave Nadir a watch inscribed with the legend "Don't let the buggers get you down", had written to the attorney general complaining about the way Nadir's case had been handled.
© 2010 AFP