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Switzerland extradites Czech fugitive

Convicted Czech businessman Tomáš Pitr, a controversial figure who fled to Switzerland, has been extradited back to the Czech Republic.

He faces 11 years in prison for tax evasion and embezzlement. Pitr was flown on Wednesday from Zurich to Prague, accompanied by three Czech police officers.

The entrepreneur fled the Czech Republic in 2007 two years after he was sentenced to five years in jail for tax evasion. In January 2010 he was given another six years in absentia for embezzlement of company funds.

Pitr remained on the run until being arrested in July 2010 in the ski resort town of St Moritz by the Swiss police, who were reportedly acting on a tip from their Czech counterparts. He has since been held in custody pending extradition; appeals and applications for asylum have been rejected.

The businessman had said his conviction was politically motivated and he feared for his life should he be forced to return to the Czech Republic. He had also claimed the judiciary was biased against him.

He began his career in the late 1980s as a money changer, and made his first million after the fall of communism when he sold duty-free rum. In the mid-1990s, he bought several firms, and eventually gained control of Setuza, the country’s biggest food and chemicals producer.

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