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Switzerland extradites member of Algerian rebel group to France

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Switzerland extradites member of Algerian rebel group to France
File photo: Bas Leenders
16:36 CET+01:00
Switzerland on Monday extradited a former member of the Algerian rebel Armed Islamic Group to France, where he has been wanted since September, Swiss authorities said.
Merouane Benahmed, who was arrested in Switzerland six months ago after he skipped out on his house arrest in northwestern France, "was handed over to French authorities at the Thonex-Vallard border crossing," justice ministry spokesman Folco Galli said in an email.
   
Benahmed, who had been living under house arrest in the French town of Evron since 2015, had failed to show up for one his mandated meetings with local police on September 8th, triggering his arrest warrant.
   
He was detained in Vallorbe, in the Swiss canton of Vaud, on September 22nd.
   
Migration authorities at the time said he had wanted to seek asylum in Switzerland.
   
The justice ministry decided in December to grant France's extradition request, but Benahmed appealed the decision.
   
The Swiss federal criminal court rejected his appeal last month, and since he did not counter that ruling, "the extradition order ... became enforceable," Galli said.
   
The 43-year-old Benahmed fled Algeria in 1999 before being sentenced to death in absentia.
   
He was slapped with the ten-year prison sentence in France over his links to a suspected insurgent organization known as the "Chechen Network."
   
He was released in 2011 and has since lived in several parts of France.
   
Algeria's Armed Islamic Group, known by its French acronym GIA, waged a deadly war against the country's secular military government through the 1990s.
   
It is now considered largely dormant.
   
Benahmed's lawyer, Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, has described her client's house arrest as "illegitimate."
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