Thursday, February 22, 2007

Heist suspect jailed in Morocco

Rabat - A man wanted in Britain for the largest cash robbery in the nation's history was sentenced on Wednesday to eight months in a Moroccan jail for unrelated crimes.

Lee Lamrani Ibrahim Murray, of dual British and Moroccan nationality, was found guilty along with three other Britons of drug use and possession and of assaulting a police officer by the Sale criminal court near Rabat.

In addition to the eight months behind bars, Murray was ordered to pay a 10 000-dirham (R8 371) fine.

The ruling came on the same day as the Supreme Court in Rabat held a hearing on Britain's extradition request for Murray.

Authorities accuse him of masterminding the theft of £53m (R734m) from a Securitas cash depot in Tonbridge, Kent, southeast England, in February 2006.

"I prefer to stay in Morocco," Murray told the court president when asked if he wanted to be extradited.

His lawyer, Me Issaoui Benmhili, said the law prohibits the extradition of Moroccan nationals.

"Should you have any doubt, I can tell you that I will soon file a petition with the Family Tribunal that will confirm my client is Moroccan," he said.

A large security contingent was deployed around the courthouse in Rabat and journalists were prevented from attending the proceedings.

Murray, who is also known in Britain as the mixed martial arts fighter Lee "Lightning" Murray, was arrested in June in Morocco and is subject to an international arrest warrant.


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