Hamas fraud suspect fights extradition

An Israeli held in Poland for suspected involvement in the killing of a Hamas chief in Dubai appeals against his planned extradition to Germany.

An Israeli man held in Poland for suspected involvement in the killing of a Hamas chief in Dubai has appealed against his planned extradition to Germany, his lawyer said today. Lawyer Krzysztof Stepinski said his client Uri Brodsky was fighting extradition on the grounds that Polish law bars such handovers when the alleged offence is politically motivated. Mr Brodsky is wanted by Berlin for allegedly having obtained a German passport under false pretences.

The document was found to have been used by a member of the hit-squad that killed Mahmud al Mabhouh, the founder of the military wing of Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, in Dubai in January. The team, which Dubai police believe were from Israeli spy agency Mossad, were found to have used 26 doctored foreign passports, sparking diplomatic fallout not only with Germany but Australia, Britain, France and Ireland.

According to German weekly Der Spiegel, which broke the story last month, Mr Brodsky was arrested on June 4 at Warsaw airport by Polish authorities acting on a European Union warrant issued by Germany. A Warsaw court approved his extradition to Germany on July 7. The court said it had not made any judgement on Mr Brodsky's guilt or innocence but had simply assessed that the German warrant was drafted correctly and confirmed the suspect's identity.

Mr Stepinski said a court would hear the appeal on August 5. In the wake of Mr Brodsky's arrest, Israel called on Poland to send him right home rather than handing him over to Germany. The Polish prime minister Donald Tusk last month dubbed the issue "delicate", pointing to the tragic history between Poland, Germany and Israel. Nazi-era Germany occupied Poland during the Second World War. Half of the six million Jews killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust were from Poland.

Warsaw now has close ties with both Germany and Israel, but Mr Tusk said the law leaves Polish justice authorities little room for manoeuvre. * AFP