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Conditions met to send Krekar to Italy: Norway court

A Norwegian court on Friday confirmed that conditions have been met to extradite a controversial Iraqi Kurdish cleric to Italy to face terrorism-related charges.

Conditions met to send Krekar to Italy: Norway court
Mullah Krekar at the extradition hearing in June. Photo: Terje Pederse/Scanpix
In June, the Oslo District Court had authorised the extradition of the 60-year-old Mullah Krekar, the religious leader of a Kurdish network suspected to be linked to the Islamic State group.
 
A refugee in Norway since 1991 but not a citizen, Krekar is accused by Italy of leading the Rawti Shax, a network that has planned to carry out attacks in the West.
 
Krekar, whose real name is Najmuddin Ahmad Faraj, had appealed the case, which was rejected on Friday by the Oslo appeals court that authorised the extradition of another suspect in the case, Kamil Jalal Fatah.
   
Krekar's lawyer, Brynjar Meling, told AFP that his client was now going to the Supreme Court.
 
Meling said his client had merely made an attempt to form a political party in Iraqi Kurdistan. “This has nothing to do with terrorism,” he told TV2.
 
The lawyer has repeatedly accused Norway of using the case as an excuse to get rid of a cumbersome Krekar, who cannot be deported to his country. Krekar has twice been sentenced to prison in Norway because of threats and inciting violent behaviour.
   
He has been at risk of deportation since 2003 after Norwegian authorities ordered him to be expelled as a threat to national security.  
 
While courts have upheld the ruling, Norwegian law bars him from being deported to Iraq, where he risks the death penalty

EXTREMISM

Norway to extradite Islamist preacher to Italy

Norway's government on Wednesday gave the go-ahead to extradite a fundamentalist Islamic preacher to Italy, where he has been sentenced to prison for leading a jihadist network.

Norway to extradite Islamist preacher to Italy
Controversial Norway-based fundamentalist preacher Mullah Krekar in court in Oslo last year. Photo: AFP

The 63-year-old Iraqi Kurdish man – known as Mullah Krekar, but named Najumuddin Faraj Ahmad – was arrested in July 2019 after he was convicted in his absence by an Italian court and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

The Italian court found him guilty of having led a now dismantled jihadist network, Rawti Shax, a Kurdish movement with alleged links to the Islamic State group and which is suspected of planning attacks in the West.

Krekar arrived in Norway in 1991 as a refugee.

The Norwegian judiciary, including the Supreme Court, has authorised the extradition, requested by the Italian authorities in July 2019, three times and the Norwegian justice ministry on Wednesday gave final authorisation to move forward.

“The ministry considers that the conditions for an extradition to Italy are met,” Minister of Justice Monica Mæland said at a brief press conference.

Krekar now has three weeks to file an appeal to the country's King in Council, a special cabinet meeting on matters of importance where the King attends.

“There will be an appeal. I am already working on it,” Brynjar Meling, Krekar's lawyer, told AFP.

“This is a sad day for the rule of law in Norway and for justice minister Monica Mæland. It is obviously a wrong decision,” he added.

According to Meling, who is also considering taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights, there is no evidence indicating that his client was guilty.

Extraditing Krekar would remove a thorn in Norway's side, after Olso tried to deport him since 2003, believing him to be a threat to national security.

Krekar, who founded the radical Islamist group Ansar al-Islam, is designated a terrorist by the UN and the US and has spent several years in Norwegian prisons for issuing threats and calling for murder.

READ ALSO: Norway frees radical Islamist after Italy ends 2016 extradition bid

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