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Spain Seeks Extradition Promises

November 23, 2001

MADRID, Spain (AP) _ Spain will not extradite a group of al-Qaida suspects it has in custody unless it receives guarantees from the United States that they won’t face the death penalty or trial in a military court, the 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.

Eight men, 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 September attacks on the World Trade Center 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 to receive assurances that any suspects would not be subject to capital punishment or military tribunals like those ordered 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 is awaiting extradition from France following his arrest for the 1977 bludgeoning murder of his girlfriend in Pennsylvania.

Spain abolished the death penalty after the end of its 1939-75 dictatorship.


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