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Czech billionaire loses extradition appeal

The Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona has given the green light to the extradition of billionaire Czech businessman Tomas Pitr to the Czech Republic.

The court rejected claims by 40-year-old Pitr, one of his country’s most wanted men, that he was being pursued for political reasons.

After the fall of communism, Pitr rapidly made a vast fortune. He fled the Czech Republic in 2007 a few hours before he was due to begin serving a six-year prison sentence for fraud and an international warrant was issued for his arrest.

At the end of July 2010, the entrepreneur was arrested at a luxury hotel in St Moritz in Switzerland and he has been in detention awaiting extradition since then.

Pitr appealed the December decision of the Federal Justice Office to authorise his extradition, an appeal now rejected by the Federal Criminal Court judges.

Following Wednesday’s ruling Pitr has lodged an appeal with the Federal Court in Lausanne, a Federal Justice Office spokesman said. But in practice the Federal Court only intervenes in judicial assistance cases when fundamental legal questions are at stake.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR