Terror suspect to be extradited to Spain
The Swiss authorities have agreed to extradite to Spain a terror suspect accused of plotting to bomb a Madrid court.
Mohamed Achraf, who is alleged to be the leader of an Islamic cell, has been held in custody in Zurich since August last year.
The 31-year-old Algerian has 30 days to appeal against the decision, which was announced by the justice ministry on Friday.
Achraf was arrested for theft and immigration violations in Switzerland last summer and was awaiting deportation when his alleged terror link surfaced at the end of October.
The Federal Prosecutor’s Office admitted that it first learnt of Achraf’s presence in Switzerland from Spanish media reports.
The complex structure of Switzerland’s intelligence service has been blamed for the mix-up.
The Spanish authorities suspect Achraf of being the mastermind behind a planned attack on the National Court in Madrid.
He allegedly recruited members for his terror cell while serving time in Spain for credit-card fraud between 1999 and 2002.
According to Spanish intelligence information leaked to the media, he was also planning robberies in Switzerland to finance the attack and may have carried out at least one major theft.
Achraf was fingerprinted by the Swiss authorities in April 2003, when he made a request for asylum using a Palestinian alias. His application was turned down six months later after officials established he was Algerian.
He then went underground, but is believed to have travelled out of Switzerland on several occasions, most likely to Spain and Germany.
He reportedly went to Spain with a suitcase of cash in July to meet members of his cell before returning to Switzerland in August.
swissinfo with agencies
August 28, 2004: Achraf is arrested by Swiss police and transferred to a detention centre at Zurich airport.
October 19, 2004: Spanish police name Achraf as suspect in alleged plot to bomb National Court in Madrid.
October 21, 2004: Swiss Federal Prosecutor opens investigation into Achraf's alleged links to "terrorist activities".
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