Bulgaria to extradite French terrorist suspect

AP News
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Posted: Jan 20, 2015 11:43 AM
Bulgaria to extradite French terrorist suspect

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — A Bulgarian court ruled on Tuesday to extradite a French national with alleged links to the terrorists who carried out the attack against the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris.

The 29-year-old Fritz-Joly Joachin confirmed before the district court in the southern city of Haskovo his decision to be voluntarily taken back to his home country and surrender to the French judicial authorities.

Bulgarian police arrested Joachin on Jan. 1 at a Bulgarian-Turkish border crossing on a European arrest warrant issued by French prosecutors who alleged that he had abducted his three-year-old son and was likely to take him to Syria.

Last Friday, the Haskovo court overruled an extradition application for alleged child abduction, saying that the charges were not covered by criminal law in Bulgaria.

In the wake of the attacks in Paris, a second European arrest warrant was issued against Joachin, charging him with participation in an organized crime group with terrorist aim and links to a network organizing the transfer of volunteers to fight with extremists in Syria. If found guilty, he could face 10 years in prison.

The second arrest warrant was issued on Jan. 11 by a Paris court. According to a translation read last week in court, Joachin had been in contact with Cherif Kouachi — one of the two Islamists that attacked Charlie Hebdo — days before he started his journey.

The second warrant said he was travelling with three people, one of whom had links with an Islamist network in Paris and another who was the sister of a man jailed for being part of a network sending fighters to Syria. None of the three were detained as it appears they were not on any wanted list before attacks in Paris.

Joachin's Bulgarian lawyer, Radi Radev, told the AP that his client denies any involvement in terrorism or any links to terrorist groups.

Tuesday's court decision is final and not subject to appeal. Law enforcement officials refused to give an exact date of the extradition because of security reasons, but said that Joachin "will be transferred to France "within the next 10 days."