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Business chiefs criticise ruling.

Byline: BY HUGO DUNCAN Business Correspondent

UK BUSINESS leaders criticised yesterday's extradition of the Enron Three to the United States under laws introduced to tackle terrorism.

The Institute of Directors (IoD) and CBI said the Extradition Act 2003 was intended to speed up the removal of suspected terrorists for trial following the September 11 attacks in New York, but was now targeting alleged white-collar criminals.

And they said the ruling set a worrying precedent under which UK executives could be extradited without the US presenting prima facie evidence - proof that there is a case to answer.

It followed yesterday's decision in the High Court to send former NatWest bankers David Bermingham, Gary Mulgrew and Giles Darby to the US to face trial on fraud charges relating to the Enron scandal.

Lawyers said the ruling came as no surprise as the Act removed the requirement for the US to demonstrate a prima facie case against UK citizens before extradition, even though US citizens cannot be extradited to Britain in a similar way.

International criminal lawyer and extradition expert Michael Caplan QC said: "The public have got to realise that the Americans do not have to provide prima facie evidence any more.

"The test they have to satisfy is therefore much easier."

The IoD said it was disappointed with the ruling. A spokesman said: "It sets a precedent that UK executives can be extradited without prima facie evidence.

"That is a concern for UK executives and for the wider UK legal system."

The CBI also raised the issue of fairness, and director general Sir Digby Jones argued that the Government needed to "look again at how this treaty was working in practice".

He said: "The process of justice is being abused."

About half of the US Government's requests to extradite Britons under the new laws have related to businessmen.

Process of justice is being abused
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 22, 2006
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