Spanish court allows extradition of Georgian crime boss

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A Spanish court Monday authorised the extradition of a Georgian crime boss who has been convicted of kidnapping and other crimes in his homeland.

Zahar Kalashov's transfer to Georgia was conditional on the agreement of authorities in the United Arab Emirates, where he was first arrested in 2006 and from where he was extradited to Spain, according to a copy of the ruling.

A Spanish court in June convicted Kalashov of laundering money earned from criminal activities carried out in the former Soviet Union, such as kidnappings and the operation of illegal casinos, by investing in real estate and luxury cars in Spain.

He was sentenced to seven and a half years in jail and slapped with a fine of 20 million euros (27 million dollars).

But he was not jailed after his sentencing as the court agreed he qualified for parole because of the time he had already spent behind bars awaiting trial.

He was re-arrested days later in the southern jet set resort of Marbella following an extradition request from Georgia, where he has been sentenced to 18 years in jail for kidnapping and leading a criminal gang.

In allowing his extradition, the court also said Georgian authorities should reduce his sentence if Spain's Supreme Court backs an appeal over his conviction in Spain.

Kalashov had fled Spain in July 2005 to dodge a major police operation which culminated in the arrests of around 30 suspected members of his organisation in Barcelona, Alicante and Malaga.

The swoop saw 800 bank accounts frozen and the impounding of luxury villas and vehicles.

© 2010 AFP

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