Belfast Telegraph

Basque terror suspect is extradited after legal row

By Adrian Rutherford

A Basque separatist wanted over a terrorist bombing campaign in Spain has been extradited after a four-year legal battle costing at least £50,000.

Fermin Vila Michelena has been sent back to Madrid to stand trial for a series of offences including the murders of a senior Spanish army officer and a police officer.

He is also suspected of being involved in numerous bomb attacks across Madrid in the late 1990s.

Vila Michelena had battled to avoid extradition since his arrest on a European Arrest Warrant in June 2010

He abandoned his legal bid earlier this month after senior judges rejected claims the 44-year-old would be denied a fair trial in Spain.

Vila Michelena's battle to stay in Northern Ireland has cost taxpayers more than £50,000.

Justice Minister David Ford confirmed last month that legal aid totalling £17,976 had been paid to his solicitor, while a further £20,245 had been given to his junior counsel and £17,391 had gone to his senior counsel.

Vila Michelena is believed to have been living in Northern Ireland since 2007, and was wanted over terror attacks in Spain for almost 13 years.

Vila Michelena claims he left Spain in 2003 and came to Northern Ireland around 2007.

In June 2010 he was arrested under terrorism legislation.

He was held under a European arrest warrant issued by the Spanish authorities.

In October 2012 a court ordered his extradition, but this was put on hold pending an appeal to the High Court.

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