Terror suspect seeks asylum in Switzerland

Many members of Bosnia's Islamic community disagree with their government's decision to extradite fellow Muslims Keystone Archive

A Yemeni suspected of terrorist activities by Italy and Bosnia has asked for asylum in Switzerland.

This content was published on September 19, 2002 - 22:40

The Federal Office for Refugees has confirmed that the 32-year-old man made his request in July.

A spokesman said on Thursday that the asylum seeker's profile had led the office to pass on information to the federal police.

The police services will now have to determine whether the man has any ties with terrorist groups or has committed any crimes abroad.

The Yemeni's presence in Switzerland was revealed by the Bosnian daily "Oslobodjenje".

According to the newspaper, Interpol issued an international warrant for the arrest of the Yemeni in 1998.

Dominique Boillat, a spokesman for the refugee office, said, however, that his department had not been informed of any extradition requests from Italy or Bosnia.

He was unable to say whether the federal police were aware of the fact.

Boillat added that the asylum procedure would follow its course, but could not give a deadline for a decision by the Swiss authorities.

Boillat also refused to confirm whether the man was accompanied by his wife and two children, as stated by the Bosnian daily.

Ties to militants?

The Italians suspect the Yemeni of belonging to the "Bologna Group", a network under investigation because of its ties to Algeria's militant Armed Islamic Group.

The Italian authorities had asked Bosnia to extradite the man earlier this year, but he had managed to give the police the slip despite being under house arrest.

The Bosnian anti-terrorist service had lost all trace of the suspect since mid-May.

The man is believed to have been one of many Arabs or Muslims who fought in the ranks of the Bosnian army during the Nineties and received Bosnian papers in return for their help.

In 2001, Sarajevo withdrew the Bosnian nationality from 94 of these people, including the Yemeni asylum seeker, according to the Italian news agency, Ansa.

Four of them were extradited to Egypt, Jordan and France, while six Algerians were handed over to the Americans and sent to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Arabs and Muslims fought with the Bosnians during the Bosnian war in the Nineties.
The Swiss authorities say they are not aware of an arrest warrant for the Yemeni.

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