23 April 2014

Morocco: France Vetoes Athlete Khalid Shah's Extradition to Norway

France has turned down a Norwegian request for the extradition of Moroccan athlete Khaled Skah, locked in a dispute with his ex-wife over custody of their two children. A French court found that the row between Norway and Morocco over the affair meant he could not be guaranteed fair treatment if extradited.

Skah, 47, won the 10,000 metres at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and has twice been world cross-country champion.

After he broke up with his Norwegian wife, Anne Cecilie Hopstock, their two children - who are now 17 and 21 - stayed with him in Rabat.

In 2009 their mother secretly took them to Norway with the help of two Norwegian soldiers.

Skah accuses the Norwegian embassy of "kidnapping" them.

Oslo has called for Skah to be extradited to face charges of abducting the children and holding them prisoner between 2007 and 2009 and threatening behaviour.

He denies the accusations.

Skah was arrested at Paris's Orly airport in June 2013 and spent two days in detention.

Judging Oslo's explanations of the circumstances of the children's return to Norway insufficient and noting the degradation of Norway-Morocco relations because of the affair, the Paris court it could not be certain that Skah's legal standing would not be adversely affected by the fact that he is a Moroccan national.

The court ordered the return of his passport.

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