Mongolia security chief loses UK extradition appeal

A top Mongolian security official lost his appeal Friday against extradition from Britain to Germany to face kidnapping charges, threatening to turn the case into a major diplomatic spat.

Bat Khurts, a key figure in Mongolia's National Security Council, is set to be extradited within weeks to face charges of kidnapping and abducting a Mongolian murder suspect from Germany in May 2003.

The High Court in London rejected claims that he was lured to Britain by officials from the Foreign Office, only to be detained on a European arrest warrant as he flew into London Heathrow on September 17 last year.

Khurts' lawyer, Duncan Macdonald, said he would accept the ruling.

But the government of Mongolia said it was "very disappointed" at the court decision and promised to take the case to the International Court of Justice.

"Other governments should take note," Ulan Bator said in a statement issued through Mcdonald.

"If the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) encourages (their) officials to come to London on official visits, it may secretly be planning their arrest for extradition.

"Also, how will countries around the world trust their British ambassadors in light of this court's decision? The Mongolian government will be taking this matter to the International Court of Justice."

A Foreign Office spokesman said Friday that Khurts' detention "in no way amounts to a diplomatic or political statement by the British government".

The spokesman said that the judges had acted entirely independently.

"This case should have no impact on the UK government's desire to strengthen bilateral relations with Mongolia," the spokesman added.

The European arrest warrant issued by Germany alleges Khurts and three other members of the Mongolian secret service kidnapped and drugged Mongolian refugee Damiran Enkhbat in France in May 2003.

It claims that Khurts drove a car carrying Enkhbat, wanted for the assassination of a Mongolian minister in 1998, to Brussels and then to the Mongolian consulate in Berlin, from where he was flown out to Ulan Bator.

A court ruled in February that Khurts could be extradited to Germany but his legal team appealed this at the High Court, arguing that he was covered by diplomatic immunity and should never have been detained.

Khurts claims he was encouraged by William Dickson, the British ambassador to Mongolia, to believe that he would be welcome in London for talks on security matters, while in fact Dickson was working with police to arrange his detention.

In his ruling on Friday, Lord Justice Alan Moses rejected this argument, and also dismissed the claim that Khurts was entitled to diplomatic immunity because he was visiting Britain on a special mission on behalf of his government.

Moses said there was "no question of any official in the United Kingdom luring the appellant to this country in the belief that he was going to meet United Kingdom officials to discuss security matters".

Dickson retired earlier this year but the Foreign Office said his departure was "unconnected" with Khurts' case.

Khurts' lawyer Macdonald said he would not take his appeal any further, telling AFP: "He's had enough. He's been in custody for nearly a year now. His (fourth) child was born while he was in custody."

He said Khurts could be extradited within two to three weeks, adding that the Mongolian "accepts he was part of the (kidnap) operation", but "at all times was acting on the orders of his state". and AFP



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