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Bomb suspect fights extradition to Spain

Achraf is wanted in Spain on terrorism charges Keystone Archive

A man suspected of plotting to bomb a Madrid court is to appeal against a decision by the Swiss authorities to extradite him to Spain.

This content was published on February 2, 2005 - 20:55

Mohamed Achraf, who is alleged to be the leader of a militant Islamic cell, has been held in custody in Switzerland since August last year.

Achraf’s lawyer said he had informed the Swiss justice ministry on Wednesday that his client would be appealing to the Federal Court against the decision.

The Swiss authorities announced on Friday that they had agreed to extradite the 31-year-old Algerian to Spain.

Achraf was arrested for theft and immigration violations in Switzerland last summer and was awaiting deportation when his alleged terror link surfaced at the end of October.

The Federal Prosecutor’s Office admitted that the first it learnt of Achraf’s presence in Switzerland was when it was reported by Spanish media.

The complex structure of Switzerland’s intelligence service has been blamed for the mix-up.

Bomb attack

The Spanish authorities suspect Achraf of being the mastermind behind a planned attack on the National Court in Madrid.

He allegedly recruited members for his cell while serving time in Spain for credit-card fraud between 1999 and 2002.

According to Spanish intelligence information leaked to the media, he was also planning robberies in Switzerland to finance the attack and may have carried out at least one major theft.

Achraf was fingerprinted by the Swiss authorities in April 2003, when he made an asylum request using a Palestinian alias. His application was turned down six months later after officials established he was Algerian.

He then went underground, but is believed to have travelled out of Switzerland on several occasions.

He reportedly went to Spain with a suitcase of cash in July to meet members of his cell before returning to Switzerland in August.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Timeline:
August 28, 2004: Achraf is arrested by Swiss police and transferred to a detention centre at Zurich airport.
October 19, 2004: Spanish police name Achraf as suspect in alleged plot to bomb the National Court in Madrid.
October 21, 2004: Swiss Federal Prosecutor opens investigation into Achraf's alleged links to "terrorist activities".

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