Dickinson case suspect is extradited to France

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The Independent US

A United States judge used legal sleight of hand on Monday to secure the extradition to France of the man accused of the rape and murder of the British schoolgirl Caroline Dickinson.

Judge David Young signalled the end of the lengthy battle to send Francisco Arce Montes for trial in France by deciding to release him on unrelated charges at the state circuit court in Miami. By waiving bail on a sexual assault charge in the US, the judge enabled federal marshals to rearrest him in connection with the murder in July 1996 of the schoolgirl from Launceston, Cornwall. Mr Montes, 51, was then taken to Miami airport, where he was expected to be put on board a flight to France.

A spokesman for the Miami-Dade state attorney's office, said: "He was a free man for a second or two in court. The state cuffs came off and the federal cuffs went on."

Mr Montes, an illegal immigrant, was arrested in Miami in March. He was allegedly found to be a "perfect match" for DNA found at the youth hostel in Pleine Fougères, Brittany, where Caroline was murdered.

The legal move marked the end of a battle to remove Mr Montez from the US justice system. Last month he avoided extradition when he refused a plea bargain on charges that he broke into a woman's house and committed a sex offence.

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall police said they had advised Caroline's family of the extradition. Police sources said a trial date would be set soon because of clear DNA evidence allegedly linking him to the murder.