Paul Grecian, the former Ordtec director who had his conviction of supplying weapons to Iraq quashed last month by the Court of Appeal, was remanded in custody in South Africa yesterday.
Mr Grecian, who had his conviction in Britain overturned after the Court of Appeal heard evidence he had helped the British government and had been prevented by official gagging orders from presenting a fair defence, was arrested when he arrived in South Africa on Friday for a holiday. He was picked up by Interpol executing an arrest warrant issued on behalf of the United States government seeking to extradite him on identical charges.
In Britain, his lawyer, Kevin Robinson, described the joint US move, as "outrageous." His conviction, Mr Robinson said, had been overturned in this country, and, he pointed out, prosecutions against US executives involved in the same case had been abandoned by the US authorities.
A previous attempt by the US to obtain Mr Grecian's extradition from Britain is understood to have fallen foul of the Government in this country which refused to cooperate with their request.
British Customs are suspected of having alerted the South Africans to his arrival.
"The US authorities are looking for him for fraud, forgery and supplying arms," Interpol's director for South Africa, Dave Bruce, told journalists yesterday. "We arrested him at Johannesburg International Airport when he arrived on Friday because a warrant was in circulation and an Interpol red notice was issued in 176 countries."
He added that the US warrant did not depend on the British court's decision and that the South African government and Interpol would fight any attempt at bail pending his extradition to the US.
But lawyers representing Mr Grecian moved to have the warrant for his detention thrown out as well as seeking bail for their client.
Lawrence Hodes,a barrister acting for him, told the court: "There was no existing warrant for dentention vaild in the Republic of South Africa." He also rejected US claims that Mr Grecian was likely to flee if granted bail, saying his client had shown his intregrity during his long trial in Britain.
Mr Hodes said this was why the case should be thrown out of court as his client had already been tried and acquitted "on the very same charges".
He said Mr Grecian had met South African officials in London before his trip and received assurances that he could travel the country without problems.
The prosecution rejected the defence motions and requested a 14-day postponement because the evidence against Mr Grecian was in the US.
The bench instead gave the prosecution three days to prepare its case, and remanded Mr Grecian into custody until then without refusing or granting his bail application.Reuse content