AFP – khaleejtimes.com 22 November 2006
LONDON - Britain and Russia have signed an extradition agreement, which will enable Russian prosecutors to collaborate directly with their British counterparts when drawing up extradition requests, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday.
Citing a British official within the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the newspaper said that Britain’s director of public prosecutions Ken Macdonald and Russia’s deputy prosecutor general Alexander Zvyaginsev signed a legal memorandum of understanding a week ago in London.
The accord will allow Russian prosecutors to work directly with the CPS to ensure their requests are correctly formatted, and contain supporting evidence.
According to the newspaper, Britain’s refusal to extradite exiled Russians to their home country has come up regularly at meetings between the two countries, both at ministerial meetings, and in talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
However, it is not clear that the memorandum will change much in the way of the number of extraditions from Britain.
“It does not change the present law on extradition in any way,” the FT quoted an unnamed CPS official as saying.
Unnamed British officials suggested to the newspaper that the accord might help convince Russia that court decisions on whether or not to grant extraditions are independent and non-political.
At the moment, extradition requests must be certified by the Home Secretary (interior minister), and are then heard by the courts, with the CPS acting on behalf of the country that made the request.
There are several high-profile Russian exiles living in Britain, and their presence has been put in the spotlight in recent days with the apparent poisoning of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, now a British citizen.
Controversial businessman Boris Berezovsky and Chechen leader Ahmed Zakayev both live in Britain at present.
Last updated 03/12/2006