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Thursday, October 30, 1997 Published at 02:35 GMT


Britain asks for extradition of Ronnie Biggs

Ronnie Biggs: Prepared to return

The British Government has formally asked Brazil to extradite the Great Train Robber, Ronnie Biggs.

The request was passed to the Brazilian Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Brasilia by the British embassy.

It comes more than two months after Britain and Brazil ratified an extradition treaty. It was widely predicted that the 68 year old robber would be the main target of the treaty.

Biggs was part of a 15-strong gang who got away with more than £2.5m after robbing a mail train in 1963. 11 men were eventually jailed for the crime. Biggs received the heaviest sentences because the judge decided he was the brains behind the crime.

[ image: Jailed for 30 years in 1965]
Jailed for 30 years in 1965
Although given concurrent sentances of 25 and 30 years for his part in the crime, he served just 19 months before escaping from Wandsworth Prison in London and eventually fleeing to Brazil.

He has escaped two previous attempts to bring him home, the first in 1974 when a Scotland Yard detective, Jack Slipper, went to Brazil to try and extradite him. But he was able to stay because his girlfriend was pregnant with their son.

Later in 1981 Biggs was kidnapped and smuggled to Barbados, but succeeded in an appeal against extradition.

[ image: Never allowed to get comfortable in Brazil]
Never allowed to get comfortable in Brazil
Biggs has become a minor celebrity in Brazil. In the late 70's he sang with the Sex Pistols and appeared in their film. His son is now a rock star in South America.

In recent years though, Biggs has let it be known that he will not fight extradition to Britain.

But surprisingly Jack Slipper does not feel his return will do much good. "Here we've got a man who escaped from prison in 1965 ... if he isn't finished with crime now I don't know what we're going to achieve, we're certainly not going to put him on the straight and narrow" he told BBC News.

[ image: Home is where the heart is]
Home is where the heart is
In a BBC interview this summer, Biggs seemed resigned to returning.

"No I don't think I would run, because number one I can't afford to. I don't have a current passport to run to another country, and I don't think there would be much future in trying to hide out in the boondocks in Brazil somewhere," he said.

"So in the event of the Brazilian government deciding I should go back, then go back I shall."

[ image: Prepared to come home and face the music]
Prepared to come home and face the music
It could take anywhere up to a year for this extradition appeal to succeed.


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