Trial of drugs kingpin extradited from Dubai suspended in France

Court proceedings halted as alleged cannabis smuggler Moufide Bouchibi complains of illness

The trial of a man accused of being one of France's biggest drug traffickers has been suspended after he claimed he was too ill to face charges.

Moufide "Mouf" Bouchibi, 41, spent a decade on the run before being arrested by police in Dubai and extradited this year.

Prosecutors allege he smuggled 50 tonnes of cannabis every year in an operation raking in an annual €70 million ($83m).

Criminal proceedings at Bordeaux's criminal court were suspended on Wednesday after the accused said he had been seriously unwell with a headache for the past four days.

He claimed he had been forcibly removed from his cell in Gradignan jail to appear in court, despite telling prison bosses he was feverish.

The president of the court suspended the hearing and called for a medical examination.

"The court made the necessary decision, our client says that he is ill and that he cannot attend his trial", said Thomas Bidnic, one of three lawyers defending Bouchibi.

Dubai Police arrested Bouchibi in March after Interpol issued a warning that he had entered the UAE using forged identity documents.

In 2015, he was convicted in absentia of drug smuggling and sentenced to 20 years in jail by a Bordeaux court. He now faces a retrial on the same charges.

Nicknamed "the ghost", Bouchibi is thought to have worked his way up from Parisian street-dealer to drug kingpin and had not set foot on French soil since 2010 until his extradition.

The drug lord was thought to have fled to Morocco in 2012, then to Algeria, and a 2019 sighting placed him in Tunisia before he was found in Dubai.

Updated: September 2nd 2021, 3:13 PM
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