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RESPONSE TO TERROR

Spain Puts Restrictions on Extraditions to U.S.

November 24, 2001|From Associated Press

MADRID — Spain will not extradite a group of Al Qaeda suspects it has in custody unless it receives guarantees from the United States that the eight men will not face the death penalty or trial in a military court, Spain's Foreign Ministry said Friday.

Although a ministry spokesman said the United States had not presented an extradition request, several major Spanish newspapers reported that the preconditions were conveyed at a meeting Wednesday between National Court prosecutors and FBI agents at the U.S. Embassy.

The eight, mostly Arab immigrants, were detained last week and have been charged with belonging to Osama bin Laden's terrorism network. According to their indictment, the suspects allegedly helped in preparations for the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

Pedro Rubira, one of the prosecutors at the meeting, and a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman both declined to comment on the reports.

However, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, who asked not to be identified, said European Union agreements prevent Spain from extraditing suspects to countries where judicial norms are seen as falling below those in the 15-nation bloc.

He said Spain would need assurances that any suspects would not be subject to capital punishment or military tribunals like those authorized by President Bush.

Promises of exemption from the U.S. death penalty have been given in certain cases, such as that of U.S. fugitive Ira Einhorn, who was extradited from France last summer after his arrest for the 1977 bludgeoning death of his girlfriend in Pennsylvania.

Spain abolished the death penalty after the end of the 1939-75 dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco.

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