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1997: 'Great Train Robber' escapes extradition again

The so-called 'Great Train Robber', Ronnie Biggs, is celebrating after Brazil's Supreme Court rejected a British request to extradite him.

The court in Rio de Janeiro ruled that because Biggs' crime was committed more than 20 years ago he could not be extradited under Brazilian law.

In 1963 Biggs was convicted of robbing a mail train, part of a 15-strong gang which stole more than 2.5m in what became known as "The Great Train Robbery".

A spokesman for the Supreme Court said the ruling was final and the British Government would not be able to appeal.

Ronnie Biggs said he was "totally elated and relieved" that the years of uncertainty were now over.

"Finally I can get on with the rest of my life," he said.

"I can't see any point in bringing him back"

Jack Slipper, ex-police officer

In London a spokesman for the Home Office said that it was "very disappointed" with the court's ruling.

Former Scotland Yard detective Jack Slipper, who was involved in the investigation following the robbery, told the BBC he was not surprised by the decision.

"It's a long time since the offence was committed and Biggs is an old man. I can't see any point in bringing him back," Mr Slipper said.

Biggs has lived in Rio de Janeiro for 27 years.

Just 15 months into a 30-year sentence for the robbery, he escaped from Wandsworth prison in London.

He first fled to Australia where he hid out until 1970 before moving on to Brazil.

But it was only in August, when Britain and Brazil formally ratified an extradition treaty, that his return home became a real possibility.

In Context
Ronnie Biggs had already frustrated two previous attempts to bring him home.

In one attempt in 1981 he was kidnapped and taken to the Caribbean island of Barbados.

During his years in Brazil, Biggs was a minor celebrity and his son became a child pop star.

However, in 2001 Biggs returned to Britain voluntarily to receive medical treatment which he could not afford in Brazil.

A series of strokes had left him partially paralysed and unable to speak.

Biggs appealed to the British authorities for leniency but on his return was immediately rearrested.

He was taken to the top-security Belmarsh prison in south-east London to serve out the remaining 28 years of his sentence.

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