Britain to Extradite Suspect in Deadly 1995 Paris Attacks
The British government announced Tuesday that it had ordered the extradition to France of Rashid Ramda, a key suspect in a series of bomb attacks in Paris six years ago which killed eight people and injured more than 200.
France had been seeking Ramda's extradition since 1995 and Britain's decision was seen as a sign of heightened anti-terrorism cooperation between the two countries following the September 11 attacks on the United States.
Britain has said it wants to speed up and simplify extradition procedures. In the past, it has often been accused of harboring people who, in their own country, are seen as terrorists.
A Home Office spokesman said that although new guidelines on strengthening cooperation between EU nations following the US attacks were still being finalized, the Ramda case was an example of the new spirit.
"It's very much being done in the spirit of enhanced cooperation and information-sharing," he told AFP.
Ramda, 31, who has been held in Britain since November 1995, is accused of being the financier behind attacks carried out by Islamic radicals on the Paris underground rail system that year.
According to French police, the attacks were carried out in retaliation for French support for the Algerian government in its crackdown on Islamic fundamentalists.
Ramda has lodged a series of legal challenges against extradition, and now has seven days in which to demand a judicial review of the latest decision.
If he goes for a review, it could delay extradition for months. If he does not, he could be extradited next week.
"There has been a number of appeals launched," a Home Office spokesman told AFP. "It has been very heavily contested by his solicitors."
His first appeal was launched in 1996 and dismissed a year later. A second went to the House of Lords, Britain's highest court, and was rejected in 1998. A third was withdrawn in late 1999.
Late last month another alleged Islamic military, Kamel Daoudi, a 27-year-old Frenchman of Algerian origin, was deported from Britain to France.
French judges have questioned him about a planned suicide attack on the US embassy in Paris and his role in a radical network linked to Osama bin Laden, chief suspect for the September 11 atrocities in the United States.
He is said to be close to Djamel Beghal, alleged head of a radical Islamist network operating in Europe and connected to bin Laden.
Last week another man being sought by French authorities in the same probe, Mustapha Labsi, was remanded in custody by a court in London until October 26.
He had been detained here at France's request -- LONDON (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)