Spain to extradite Syrian arms dealer to US

June 7th, 2008 - 12:27 am ICT by IANS  

Madrid, June 6 (DPA) The Spanish government Friday authorised the extradition of Syrian arms dealer Monzer al-Kassar to the US, where he is to be tried for supplying weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The government confirmed the decision taken in December by the National Court, which approved the extradition on the condition that the death penalty would not be applied to al-Kassar, and that he would not be jailed for his entire life.

Al-Kassar was detained a year ago at Madrid airport after flying in from the southern Costa del Sol, where he has lived since 1980. The US suspects him of supplying weapons to terrorist organisations.

Infiltrated agents of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) attended meetings in 2007 in Spain, where al-Kassar discussed weapons sales and offered 1,000 men for FARC’s “war against the US,” according to the Spanish Justice Ministry.

The National Court earlier said al-Kassar had been an international arms trafficker since the early 1970s, supplying weapons to armed groups in Nicaragua, Brazil, Cyprus, Bosnia, Croatia, Somalia, Iran and Iraq.

In 2006 and early 2007, al-Kassar and two other suspects agreed to supply the FARC rebels with weapons worth millions of dollars for protecting their cocaine business and for killing US citizens in Colombia, the court said.

Al-Kassar has fought his extradition on the grounds that the US would not grant an Arab a fair trial.

In the early 1990s, al-Kassar was jailed preventatively in Spain for 14 months on charges of involvement in the 1985 Palestinian hijacking of the Italian passenger ship Achille Lauro. He was released on bail and acquitted owing to a lack of evidence.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in World |