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British court backs extradition of former tycoon Khalifa

A British court has authorised the extradition of former Algerian tycoon Rafik Khalifa to his home country where he has been condemned in absentia to life in jail for banking fraud.

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AFP - A British court on Thursday approved the extradition of former bank chief Rafik Khalifa to Algeria, where he has been sentenced to life in prison over a massive embezzlement scandal.

Khalifa's lawyer instantly said an immediate appeal would be made against the ruling by the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court in London.

Khalifa was sentenced in 2007 to life in prison in absentia by an Algerian court over fraud and embezzlement offences related to the collapse of the bank he founded.

He started living in exile in London in 2003 after hundreds of millions of dollars (euros) were discovered missing from the Khalifa Bank, until then Algeria's largest private bank.

He was detained in Britain under a European arrest warrant issued by a court in France, which was also seeking to extradite him over allegations of embezzlement from the Khalifa Group and French-registered subsidiaries.

Algeria's justice ministry said he would get a fair trial at home.

A statement said the British decision came after London was satisfied "that conditions guaranteeing a fair trial are present after several hearings with witnesses, experts and... lawyers," Algeria's APS news agency reported.

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