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Noye murder extradition cleared by Spanish court

THREE SPANISH National Court judges yesterday approved the extradition of Britain's most wanted man, Kenneth Noye, who is sought in connection with the M25 road-rage murder in May 1996. Court sources said yesterday that the 36-page ruling in favour of extraditing Mr Noye would be made official when the three judges formally signed it at around midday today.

Mr Noye, who argued vehemently against extradition at a court hearing in Madrid last week, has three days in which to appeal against the decision.

If his legal team decide to do so, this would prolong Mr Noye's stay in a jail near Madrid for weeks if not months, until a plenary session of the National Court decides his fate. Otherwise he could be put on a plane within days and handed over to Kent Police, who submitted the extradition request last September.

Mr Noye told Madrid's high-security court last Monday that he did not want to be extradited because the British media would make it impossible for him to receive a fair trial.

Mr Noye insisted he had nothing to do with the stabbing to death of Stephen Cameron, 21, on a motorway slip road near Swanley, Kent, nearly three years ago.

Glaring at dozens of British journalists massed behind a bullet-proof glass screen, he begged to be allowed to stand trial in Spain, adding: "I've already had my trial in England, by the media."

Mr Noye, 51, was arrested in the early hours of 29 August last year in a dramatic police raid on a restaurant in the southern Spanish town of Barbate near Cadiz. The swoop followed an international manhunt extending from Tenerife to Cyprus which was carried out after Mr Noye skipped Britain shortly after Mr Cameron was killed.

Mr Noye's principal line of defence was that the procedure whereby he was identified, by photograph rather than by identity parade, did not stand up in Spanish law.

But Spain's chief state prosecutor, Eduardo Fungairino, last week argued that Britain had submitted a watertight extradition plea and had "presented an absolutely convincing account of the events surrounding the stabbing and had come to the conclusion that the crime could have been committed by no other person than Kenneth Noye."