Fugitive Cyprus tycoon returns to Britain for trial: report

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A businessman who fled to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus 17 years ago after being charged with stealing from his collapsed firm returns to Britain on Thursday to face trial, a paper reported.

Former Polly Peck boss Asil Nadir told Britain's Times daily that he was leaving the self-declared republic in the north of the Mediterranean island, which has no extradition treaty with London and is only recognised by Turkey.

On his return to Britain, the 69-year-old will resume a courtroom battle that was halted in 1993 when he fled to avoid standing trial.

"I feel determined," Nadir told The Times.

"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 stressed his "belief in my innocence" gave him strength for the legal fight ahead.

The tycoon arrives later Thursday at Luton airport, north of London, on board a plane carrying only a small number of passengers, including Nadir, his wife, his lawyers and members of his personal staff, said the paper.

Nadir is due to appear in court in September when a date for his trial will be set. 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 when he will arrive in Britain, deposits a security of 250,000 pounds (around 300,000 euros, 390,000 dollars) with the court, agrees to be tagged and attends a hearing at the Old Bailey on September 3.

Nadir, who is a Turkish Cypriot, fled to the Mediterranean island after being charged with 66 counts of theft involving 34 million pounds.

Before its collapse, Polly Peck was one of Britain's biggest companies with interests in sectors ranging from textiles to electronics.

The September hearing is likely to fix a date for Nadir's full trial, which will probably be lengthy and take place in 2011.

© 2010 AFP

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