French court frees Kadhafi aide accused of embezzlement

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A French court on Wednesday freed Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's former protocol chief, who was arrested in France at the request of Tripoli on suspicion of embezzlement.

The court in Versailles hearing Libya's extradition request ordered Nuri Al-Mismari to be freed because it said his detention since his arrest late last month was "irregular" for technical reasons.

The judge said that because the detention was ordered by the prosecutor's office it was not in line with a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights, and he said the French justice ministry had "intervened."

Al-Mismari repeated in court that he was innocent of the crimes that Libya accuses him of and that he had come to France for treatment for a heart condition.

The court informed Al-Mismari of the international arrest warrant issued for him on behalf of Libya, which accuses him of embezzling state funds.

Al-Mismari told the court that he refused to be extradited. A further extradition hearing has been scheduled fo December 23.

"I am innocent of everything that Libya accuses me of," Al-Mismari told the court. "The protocol office does not manage public funds because the budget of the office comes under the responsibility of the finance ministry."

© 2010 AFP

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