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Ruling is 'worrying precedent'.

UK business leaders criticised the 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.

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 Cap-lan 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 problem that arises out of this and the extradition treaty is that UK executives may be deterred from investing or operating in the US. It threatens transatlantic agreements if you can be extradited without prima facie evidence.

"It is possible that US prosecutors might seek to extradite UK executives as an easier option than prosecuting US executives. We are particularly concerned about this."

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: "Business is very supportive of white-collar crime being punished effectively but the treaty must be implemented fairly."

During the attempted extradition of British businessman Ian Norris on fraud charges in January, Sir Digby said the situation was "unacceptable".

He said: "It might be acceptable for the bloke who wraps Semtex around his body but not for a 62-year-old executive with prostate cancer."
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Feb 22, 2006
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