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Page last updated at 16:40 GMT, Monday, 26 May 2008 17:40 UK

Swiss to return drug lord's money

Switzerland's supreme court has ruled that a convicted drug trafficker may reclaim a confiscated $500,000 (317,000 euros; 253,000) bank deposit.

The unnamed Australian asked for the money back when he arrived in Switzerland on a false passport after serving a prison sentence in Australia.

Authorities had seized the cash but the court ruled that no link had been shown between his crimes and Switzerland.

It added that the deposit predated the crime of which the man was convicted.

In its ruling, the Swiss Federal Tribunal described the man as "one of the most important drug dealers in Australia" who had been "linked to organised crime since the 1970s".

Compensation award

The trafficker was sentenced to nine years in prison in Australia in 1996 for importing 15 tonnes of cannabis in 1993.

However, his Swiss bank account dated back to 1987.

After his release from prison, the man made his way to Geneva where, presenting a false passport, he asked to reclaim his money.

The bank grew suspicious and alerted the authorities, who launched an investigation and confiscated the money.

As well as overturning the decision to confiscate the funds, the Lausanne-based court ruled that Switzerland should compensate their owner.

The former convict was awarded an additional 3,000 Swiss francs (1,857 euros).




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