'Pink Panther' suspect to serve Cyprus jail term

A court ordered a suspected member of a gang of jewel thieves dubbed the "Pink Panthers" to first serve a jail sentence in Cyprus before being extradited to Spain, an official said today.

Rifat Hadziahmetovic of Montenegro must serve the nine-month term after he was convicted of trying to leave Cyprus using a fake passport, police spokesman Christos Andreou said.

It is now up to the island's attorney general whether to commute Hadziahmetovic's sentence to speed up his extradition, Andreou said.

Hadziahmetovic was arrested at Larnaca airport last month with a fake Bulgarian passport. Spain has requested his extradition over a 2008 robbery on the Spanish island of Tenerife.

The "Pink Panther" gang is suspected of mounting a series of thefts worth $150m in shops for the rich in Europe and Asia.