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Last Updated: Friday, 28 January, 2005, 10:10 GMT
Italy will not extradite cleric
bomb debris
Five simultaneous attacks rocked Casablanca in May 2003
Italy's highest court has ruled that a Muslim cleric accused of links to the Casablanca bombings in 2003 cannot be extradited to Morocco.

Mohammed Rafik is suspected of being part of an extremist group involved in the suicide attacks which left 45 dead.

The ruling reverses an earlier decision that he could be handed over, after Morocco said he would not be executed.

On Monday, a court dropped charges against five North Africans saying they were guerrillas not terrorists.

Mr Rafik, a Moroccan, has lived in Italy since 1998. He was arrested in October 2003 on suspicion of having ties to Salafia Jihadia - which Morocco blames for the attacks.

The cleric has denied the charges.

Safeguards

Under European law, Italy cannot extradite suspects to countries where they risk execution.

Earlier on Thursday, Italy's Justice Minister Roberto Castelli told Reuters news agency that Italy was failing to secure convictions against Islamic terror suspects because they were awarded too many safeguards under the legal system.

"There are extremely ample guarantees afforded to a defendant," he said.

"One must be careful that these democratic guarantees do not give birth to a type of impunity."




SEE ALSO:
Italy's Muslims under pressure
28 Sep 04 |  Europe
Country profile: Italy
12 Dec 04 |  Country profiles



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