Briton loses extradition appeal over Paris murder

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A British businessman arrested over his girlfriend's death in a Paris hotel in 2009 lost his appeal Wednesday against extradition to France where he faces questioning for murder.

Ian Griffin, 41, from Cheshire in northwest England, is wanted over the death of his wealthy Polish-born French girlfriend Kinga Legg, 36.

Her battered body was found by a maid in the bathroom of the five-star Hotel Le Bristol on the evening of May 26, 2009.

Griffin was arrested by British police on a European arrest warrant on June 1 in Cheshire, where he was living in a tent.

In December 2010, a British judge ordered Griffin to be extradited to France for questioning, despite the fact that he could not attend the hearing, having been hospitalised after taking an overdose on November 18.

At the High Court on Wednesday, judge Andrew Collins rejected an appeal against the December ruling and arguments against the suspect's extradition, saying: "I dismiss the claim and the appeal."

Griffin must now decide whether to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The judge noted that Griffin was addicted to alcohol and prescription drugs and had a history of mental illness and self-harm, saying "it is apparent that there is a real risk of suicide".

He also said medical evidence suggested that any delays to the case would trigger "a further life threatening incident".

In a written judgement, the judge urged "that all medical records should be passed to the French authorities who are to take him into their care and the utmost care should be taken to ensure that he does not attempt serious self-harm or suicide in the course of his extradition".

According to the judgement, Legg and Griffin -- who had a turbulent relationship but were due to be married -- had had dinner on the evening of Saturday May 23 in a restaurant, where they both drank a lot of alcohol and quarrelled.

Griffin walked out and went back to the hotel, only to find she was there, having taken a taxi, according to what he told a psychiatrist.

"He claimed that he remembered nothing else that happened until he woke up the next morning to find her lying in bed. The room had been trashed and its contents broken," the judgement said.

"At first, he thought she was asleep, but he noticed blood around her mouth. He tried to wake her and put her into a hot bath and gave her mouth to mouth resuscitation. He realised that she was dead. He panicked and left.

"He left in his father's car but realised after a time that he could not drive safely and so he called his parents to collect him from France. He remembered little else."

Legg owned an international company which supplied supermarkets with tomatoes, and also lived in Cheshire. Griffin, meanwhile, ran tanning salons and gadget shops in the northwest of England and was declared bankrupt in 2006.

© 2011 AFP

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