PST: ‘Krekar can be extradited’

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Norway’s police intelligence unit PST believes there’s nothing to prevent the extradition of Islamic cleric Mullah Krekar to Italy, where he’s been charged with leading a fundamentalist Islamic organization that’s allegedly been planning terrorist operations in Europe and the Middle East. His extradition hearing was getting underway on Thursday in a local Oslo court.

Mullah Krekar was back in court on Thursday, not fighting an extradition order to Italy. PHOTO: Øistein Norum Monsen/Dagbladet

Mullah Krekar was back in court on Thursday, now fighting an extradition order to Italy. PHOTO: Øistein Norum Monsen/Dagbladet

Krekar, who came to Norway as a refugee from Northern Iraq in 1991,  is fighting the extradition request. Even though he violated the terms of his asylum in Norway by traveling back to his homeland to lead a guerrilla group, and has been in legal trouble in Norway for years, Krekar doesn’t want to leave. He’s also been fighting every attempt at deportation from Norway since he was declared a threat to national security several years ago. He’s been convicted on numerous occasions of making threats, not least against Norway’s current prime minister, Erna Solberg.

His longtime defense attorney Brynar Meling has claimed the extradition request from Italy simply provides an excuse for Norway to finally “get rid” of his client. Italy, however, claims it wants to put Krekar on trial for allegedly planning terrorist acts. Norwegian authorities claim they’re simply cooperating with Italian authorities.

Krekar was arrested last November along with many other alleged accomplices in a large European police operation based on the results of a five-year police investigation. A total of 17 people were ordered held in custody, allegedly for being members of an organization headed by Krekar called Rawt.

Krekar, an alleged accomplice in Fredrikstad and others arrested deny having anything to do with terror planning. Meling told newspaper Aftenposten this week that the arrests and extradition order are “part of the game” Norwegian authorities are playing, “to be finished with the problem (of) Mullah Krekar.”

PST’s attorney Signe Aalling, however, wrote in a letter to the Oslo City Court that Italy’s demands for extraditing Krekar have been fulfilled. Norway won’t allow extradition for political reasons, but PST claims terror charges can’t halt one. Nor does PST think Krekar would risk persecution in Italy on the basis of race, religion, national or political opinions. PST doesn’t see any humanitarian reasons either, for turning down Italy’s request that Krekar stand trial on terrorist charges. The group he allegedly leads, it’s said, has violent goals.

Krekar has already claimed that the Italian extradition request is politically oriented. PST responds that it has only had “ordinary, international cooperation” with the Italians. It was unclear when the court would rule on the extradition case, which was likely be appealed by either losing side.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund