Police arrest Czech billionaire on the run

Czech authorities want Switzerland to extradite one of the most wanted men in their country, a multibillionaire who has been on the run for three years.

This content was published on July 30, 2010 - 16:26

Swiss police arrested the man on Monday at the luxurious Kempinski Hotel in the mountain resort of St Moritz. Officers from the Czech Republic told their Swiss counterparts when and where the man would be, Radio Praha reported.

The 39-year-old businessman fled the Czech Republic in 2007 after having been convicted of tax evasion and sentenced to five years in jail. In January 2010, he was sentenced in absentia to another six years in prison for embezzlement.

He has said he is innocent. Others say he is one of the last symbols of corruption, crime and murky dealings that plagued Czech business and politics during the country’s transition away from communism.

Czech Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil said on Friday that negotiations with Bern over the extradition could last for months and that he has asked Swiss authorities to extend a deadline from 18 to 40 days for providing an official request for extradition.

Swiss justice authorities said they had not yet received an official request to send the man back.

The Swiss have shown in recent weeks that extradition requests must be legally exact to be granted. Swiss justice authorities recently refused to extradite to the United States filmmaker Roman Polanski who was arrested in connection with a 33-year-old child sex case because the Americans refused to hand over sealed documents that the Swiss said they needed to evaluate the request.

Pospisil said he believes Prague has a “50 per cent chance” of having the man extradited.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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