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Jan 22, 2019 | Algeria

Franco-Algerian businessman faces UK extradition ruling next month

By AFP
Djouhri was released on bail on health grounds in February because of his heart problems. He underwent surgery last year.  By Tolga AKMEN (AFP)
Djouhri was released on bail on health grounds in February because of his heart problems. He underwent surgery last year. By Tolga AKMEN (AFP)

A Franco-Algerian businessman arrested in Britain as part of a probe into former French president Nicolas Sarkozy faces a British court ruling next month on whether he should be extradited to France, a judge said Tuesday.

Vanessa Baraitser, a judge at Westminster Magistrates Court in London, told Alexandre Djouhri she will announce her decision on his extradition on February 26, following two days of hearings in the long-running case.

Djouhri, a key figure in the investigation into the alleged Libyan financing of Sarkozy's 2007 presidential campaign, told AFP he was confident she will rule in his favour.

"I'm totally confident," he said outside the courtroom, flanked by his son and daughter.

Djouhri's extradition hearing began Monday after several previous postponements and as the 59-year-old businessman suffers continued heart problems.

He was summoned several times by the French courts and arrested at London Heathrow Airport in January 2018 on a European arrest warrant.

Djouhri in September called the warrant "fraudulent".

French investigators are examining his alleged involvement in the 2009 sale of a villa in the French Alps for around 10 million euros ($11.3 million).

A Libyan investment fund managed by Bashir Saleh, the ex-chief of staff of Libya's deposed leader Moamer Kadhafi, bought the property at a "very inflated" price, and Djouhri is suspected of being its true owner, a source close to the inquiry has told AFP.

Djouhri was released on bail on health grounds in February because of his heart problems. He underwent surgery last year, a source close to the case previously told AFP.

The businessman must continue to adhere to bail conditions until February's verdict.

He must stay in his home between 2 and 6 am and report to a police station between noon and 4 pm.

He must also remain within the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the neighbouring City of Westminster district.

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