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Last Updated: Friday, 6 June, 2003, 12:02 GMT 13:02 UK
EU agrees US extradition deal
Police and soldiers at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport
The deal is part of extra security measures in the war on terror
European Union justice ministers have agreed a long-awaited extradition deal with the United States covering terrorism and organised crime.

The agreement is part of the EU's response to the 11 September 2001 attacks, and will be signed at an EU-US summit in Washington on 25 June.

It had been delayed for almost a year as EU officials sought and obtained the right to refuse extradition if a suspect faces the possibility of the death penalty in the US.

We believe these instruments contain a value added to our joint fight against terrorism
US official
European human rights groups have said the agreement is too vague and ambiguous.

An accord allowing American and European police officers to set up joint investigation teams, share evidence and streamline co-operation in criminal and terrorist cases, will also be signed at the June summit.

Both agreements must be ratified by all 15 EU member states and the US Senate.

The US welcomed the agreement.

"We are gratified by the EU's decision," a US official told Reuters news agency. "We believe these instruments contain a value added to our joint fight against terrorism."

Washington already has bilateral extradition agreements with a number of EU countries, but the new deal will allow requests to be handled via a simplified procedure.

Criticism

Diplomats told Reuters that EU countries will retain the right to refuse extradition where the death penalty could be enforced.

They can also deny a request if the US cannot guarantee a fair trial to the suspect in a civilian court.

It is not clear how the deal will affect foreign terrorism suspects, who could be tried by military tribunals with powers to impose the death penalty.

The US has come under heavy criticism, including from the European Parliament, for its detention of around 600 prisoners captured during the Afghan war in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.




SEE ALSO:
EU to push through terror laws
03 Dec 01  |  Europe


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