Britain extradites Algeria ex-tycoon Khalifa: news agency

ALGIERS (AFP) - Rafik Khalifa, a former Algerian tycoon who once owned an airline and a string of companies, was extradited to his homeland from Britain on Tuesday, the APS news agency reported.

He took refuge in Britain in 2003 when his business collapsed, costing the Algerian state and individuals between US$1.5 billion (S$1.9 billion)and US$5 billion.

In 2007, Algeria convicted him in absentia of criminal involvement and fraud, sentenced him to life in prison and demanded his extradition.

Britain's Home Office said last week that Khalifa had been refused leave to appeal to the Supreme Court on Dec 3 and would be extradited within 28 days of that date.

Subsequently, the European Court of Human Rights rejected an appeal that would have suspended the British extradition move.

Once considered the "golden boy" of Algeria, Khalifa went from obscurity to build an empire that also included a bank and television stations, and employed 20,000 people in Algeria and Europe.

French authorities are also seeking to extradite Khalifa on fraud and embezzlement charges, but the Algerian request takes precedence.