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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 March 2006, 10:55 GMT
Hariri suspect 'slashes wrists'
Rana Koleilat's British passport photo
Koleilat is wanted in connection with the collapse of a Lebanese Bank
A Lebanese banker being held in Brazil in connection with the murder of ex-Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri has tried to slash her wrists, police say.

Rana Koleilat was found bleeding in her cell, but Brazilian police said she was not seriously injured and had been trying to draw attention to her plight.

On Wednesday, Lebanon asked Brazil to extradite Ms Koleilat on charges of fraud, embezzlement and forgery.

Mr Hariri was killed in a massive car bomb in Beirut in February 2005.

A UN investigation into his death is ongoing and has implicated Syrian and Lebanese officials.

'Fearing for her life'

Ms Koleilat, 39, was found bleeding in her cell in Sao Paulo on Wednesday after cutting her left wrist with a blade from a sharpener for eyeliner pencils.

I could make out from the very bad Portuguese that she speaks that she is scared to go back to Lebanon
Sao Paulo Police Chief Martins Fontes

Sao Paulo's police chief, Martins Fontes, said she was given two stitches at a hospital before being transferred to a more secure cell at another police station.

Mr Fontes insisted she had not intended to kill herself.

"From all my years of experience as a policeman, I can tell you that this is an attempt to call attention to herself," he said.

"I could make out from the very bad Portuguese that she speaks that she is scared to go back to Lebanon," he added.

"She fears for her life."

Brazil and Lebanon do not have an extradition treaty, but the Brazilian ambassador in Beirut, Eduardo Augusto Ibiapina de Seixas, said he did not think the extradition would be a problem.

British citizen

Ms Koleilat was arrested on Sunday at a hotel in Sao Paulo after an anonymous tip off.

Police said she offered officials up to 200,000 Brazilian reals ($94,000) to let her go when she was arrested.

Ms Koleilat is under investigation in Lebanon on suspicion of involvement in a multi-million dollar fraud at a Lebanese bank where she used to work. Bank al-Madina collapsed in 2003.

She fled Lebanon last year after being released on bail.

The UN report into Rafik Hariri's death said investigators had "followed threads leading into the Bank al-Madina collapse... including links to Lebanese and Syrian officials and well as Mr Hariri".

When arrested, Ms Koleilat was in possession of a British passport, which consular officials said was genuine, identifying her as Rana Klailat.

British Vice-Consul David Paginton said consular officials had visited Ms Koleilat and that she was entitled to British assistance.



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