Britain extradites Algeria’s former tycoon Rafik Khelifa

Rafik Khelifa once owned an airline and a string of companies

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Britain extradited an Algerian business tycoon who fled his country in 2003 after his business collapsed, costing the government and private associates up to $5 billion, Algerian Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

“Abdelmoumene Rafik Khelifa has been handed over Tuesday to Algeria by the British authorities,” APA quoted a justice ministry statement as saying.

“The extradition comes “in accordance with the legal procedures and provisions of the judicial agreement” between Algeria and the United Kingdom,” the statement added.

In 2007, Algeria convicted Khalifa in absentia of criminal involvement and fraud, sentenced him to life in prison and demanded his extradition.

Britain's Home Office said last week that Khalifa had been refused leave to appeal to the Supreme Court on Dec. 3 and would be extradited within 28 days of that date.

Subsequently, the European Court of Human Rights rejected an appeal that would have suspended the British extradition move.

Once considered the “golden boy” of Algeria, Khalifa went from obscurity to build an empire that also included a bank and television stations, and employed 20,000 people in Algeria and Europe.

French authorities are also seeking to extradite Khalifa on fraud and embezzlement charges, but the Algerian request takes precedence.

(With AFP)