March 19, 2018 / 12:55 PM / 9 months ago

Czechs halt extradition proceedings against Syrian Kurd leader

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Czech authorities halted extradition proceedings against a Syrian Kurdish leader whom they briefly detained in February on a warrant issued by Turkey, a state attorney’s office said on Monday.

Saleh Muslim formerly headed the PYD, the major part of a coalition governing Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria and which is deemed by Turkey to be a terrorist organization.

His release from detention, under a February 27 court order, caused a diplomatic row with Ankara which has accused him of aggravated murder and disrupting the Turkish state.

On his release, he pledged to remain on European Union territory and to cooperate in further proceedings.

The new decision means that the Czech authorities conclude the case completely.

“The state attorney has halted the proceedings because the person is not on the Czech Republic’s territory and thus the extradition process cannot continue,” spokeswoman Stepanka Zenklova said.

Muslim’s lawyer Miroslav Krutina said the decision also meant his client was no longer bound by a pledge to remain in the EU.

“He is free,” Krutina said.

Ankara, describing his release as a political decision against international law, swore to follow Muslim “wherever he goes”.

Turkey later asked Germany and Sweden, where Muslim traveled after leaving the Czech Republic, to detain him, but in vain.

Reporting by Robert Muller

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