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The BBC's Jon Sopel
"Almost certain he'll be sent back for questioning"
 real 28k

Thursday, 25 May, 2000, 15:11 GMT 16:11 UK
Peake suspect lawyers may appeal
Sid Abraham Rezala
Sid Ahmed Rezala could launch one final appeal
Lawyers for the man suspected of murdering British student Isabel Peake have 10 days to lodge a final appeal against a Portuguese court's decision to extradite him to France.

Sid Ahmed Rezala, 20, who was arrested in Lisbon in January, is accused of throwing Ms Peake from a high speed train in October as she was travelling back to Britain from Limoges University where she had been studying.

On Wednesday the supreme court in Lisbon rejected an application by Mr Rezala to overturn a lower court's decision to extradite him.

It seems likely he will now return to France to stand trial for the murder of Ms Peake, whose battered body was found beside railway tracks, and of two other women.


Isabel Peake
Isabel Peake: Thrown to her death from a train
Mr Rezala's lawyers had been resisting attempts to have him returned to France.

It is not yet clear whether they will now lodge an appeal to Portugal's Constitutional Tribunal.

Ms Peake's parents Brian and Annie, who have maintained a dignified silence since the tragedy, have not commented about the ruling.

Their daughter is alleged to have been Mr Rezala's first victim.

He is also suspected of stabbing Corinne Caillaux on another train two months later, and of killing his former girlfriend Emilie Bazin.

'Confession'

Last week the French journal "Le Figaro-Magazine" published what it claimed was an admission of guilt by Mr Rezala to the three murders.

He said he had experienced a sudden mental "flash" which made him kill.

He was quoted as saying about Ms Peake: "She was very sweet. We got on well together at the station in Limoges. She telephoned her bloke ... and once more I saw the flash."

Ms Peake had been travelling back to England to visit her parents at their home in Barlaston, near Stone, Staffordshire.



Good sense and the spirit of justice has prevailed

Jean-Paul Thibault
She had been in France for just weeks as part of an exchange trip for her French/Law degree course.

Students at her university said they were delighted to hear that the suspect will now be extradited.

Matt Gorman, president of the Guild of Students at Birmingham University, where Ms Peake was a third year student, said: "We just hope there is a fair trial and a successful outcome to the case."

The supreme court's decision upholds an earlier ruling by a lower Portuguese court.

Mr Rezala's lawyers appealed against that ruling because Portuguese law does not allow for extradition to countries where a stiffer sentence can be imposed, which is the case in France.

'Relieved'

The Peake's French lawyer Jean-Paul Thibault also said he was "relieved" at the news.

"It is a satisfying result because we had feared a decision which could have been terrible but good sense and the spirit of justice has prevailed," he said.

Bill Cash, the Conservative MP for Stone, was also pleased with the supreme court's ruling.

"I am delighted to hear for the sake of the family... and for justice, that Mr Rezala will be extradited," he said.

The killings shocked France and French police were severely embarrassed when Mr Rezala eluded them and escaped first to Spain and then to Portugal.

He was arrested after making a phone call to his former girlfriend in France which was traced by Portuguese police.

As a precautionary measure in case Mr Rezala appeals against the ruling, France has asked Interpol to issue an international arrest warrant covering 178 countries in the event of extradition being denied.

But Portuguese Justice Ministry sources said if the request is rejected, Rezala will not be released because under bilateral accords France can ask for the trial to take place in Portugal.

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