Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Biggs faces extradition treaty threat

RONALD BIGGS, the Great Train Robber and a fugitive from justice for nearly 30 years - is facing a new threat to his freedom.

The Home Office confirmed last night that Britain is negotiating an extradition treaty with Brazil, where Biggs has lived most of the time since he escaped from Wandsworth jail in July, 1965, after serving only 15 months of his 30-year sentence.

Biggs, now 64, is protected from extradition until his son Michael turns 21, in 1996. Even then, it could be a complicated legal battle.

Michael Portillo, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who is leading a trade mission to Brazil, said: 'We've been interested in restoring an extradition treaty for quite a while.' He did not mention Biggs, but added: 'It is not ready yet . . . but our intention is that it will be retroactive.' A Home Office spokeswoman was unable to say when a treaty was likely to come into effect if the parties agreed on a formula.

In the 1970s, Scotland Yard's efforts to return Biggs to Britain were foiled by law. Biggs's Brazilian lover, Raimunda de Castro, became pregnant, and as the father of a Brazilian child, he won immunity from deportation.

In March 1981, he was kidnapped in Rio by a gang of adventurers and smuggled to Barbados by boat. Their aim was to take him to Britain, but the Barbados High Court decided the rules governing extradition to Britain had not been properly put before its parliament, and Biggs was allowed to return to Brazil.