Former president of Benfica faces extradition

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The Independent Online

The former president of the Portuguese football club Benfica appeared before Westminster magistrates' court in London yesterday and could be extradited to Portugal to face fraud and document forgery charges relating to mismanagement of the team's finances.

An international arrest warrant was issued last month for Joao Antonio De Araujo Vale e Azevedo, who served at Benfica between 1997 and 2000 and was convicted in 2002 of embezzling part of the fee the club received for the sale of the Russian goalkeeper Sergei Ovchinnikov. It has been claimed he used the money to pay for a luxury yacht.

Mr Vale e Azevedo was jailed for four and a half years, but only spent two years in prison after the Portuguese Supreme Court ordered his release in February 2004. But just seconds after leaving the court he was rearrested.

Mr Vale e Azevedo, a lawyer, has received various prison sentences since then but did not actually spend any more time in prison. He was still on bail when police called at his home in May 2008. They learnt that he had moved to London.

He was arrested by the Metropolitan Police's extradition unit after appearing for an arranged meeting at Belgravia police station yesterday. He was bailed and the case was adjourned until 25 July.