Mongolian security chief held in Britain on German warrant

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Britain tried to smooth over a diplomatic row with Mongolia Friday after a senior Mongolian security official was arrested at a London airport on an international warrant for an alleged kidnap.

Detectives detained Bat Khurts as he stepped off a plane at London's Heathrow airport in September, officials said, reportedly after the Mongolian dignitary was invited to hold talks with the British government.

Germany is seeking the extradition of Khurts, described in British media as a senior figure in Mongolia's National Security Council, for alleged involvement in the abduction of a Mongolian man in France who was then taken to Mongolia via Germany in 2003.

"The arrest in no way amounts to a diplomatic or political statement by the British government," a spokeswoman for the Foreign Office in London said.

"The judicial authorities, which are wholly independent of government, are carrying out their independent legal functions in accordance with the law."

She confirmed that Khurts was arrested under a European arrest warrant issued by German authorities and said proceedings for his extradition were now under way.

"As the case is now before the courts, it would be inappropriate to comment further," she said.

A British police source speaking on condition of anonymity told AFP that Scotland Yard detectives detained Khurts on his arrival at Heathrow Airport on the European arrest warrant.

He is due to appear in court again on November 15, the source said.

The German warrant alleges that Khurts was a member of a snatch squad which kidnapped and drugged Mongolian refugee Damiran Enkhbat in the French port of Le Havre in May 2003, Britain's Independent newspaper said.

Enkhbat was himself wanted in Mongolia for the assassination of a minister.

The Independent also claims that Khurts drove a car carrying Enkhbat to the Mongolian consulate in Brussels and then to Germany, where he was put on a flight to Ulan Bator.

Court papers filed by the Mongolian embassy in a bid to win Khurts' release on bail say that a top British official had suggested he meet Britain's national security adviser on his visit here, the Independent added.

The court papers allege that the Foreign Office later supplied the British agency dealing with serious and organised crime with full details of Khurts's arrival date, to enable his detention.

The Mongolian embassy in London was not immediately available for comment.

© 2010 AFP

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