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Spain concern over terror suspects

MADRID, Spain -- Al Queda suspects in Spanish custody will not be extradited to the U.S. unless there is a guarantee they will not face the death penalty, the country's foreign ministry has said.

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A ministry spokesman said there had not been an extradition request as yet for eight men, mostly Arab immigrants, detained last week and charged with belonging to Osama Bin Laden's al Queda network.

Their indictment alleges that the suspects helped in preparations for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

But the foreign ministry spokesman, quoted by news agencies, said European Union agreements prevent Spain from extraditing suspects to countries where judicial norms are seen as falling below those in the 15-nation bloc.

He said Spain would need to receive assurances that any suspects would not be subject to capital punishment or military tribunals like those ordered by U.S. President George W. Bush.

Promises of exemption from the U.S. death penalty have been given in certain cases, such as that of U.S. fugitive Ira Einhorn, who was extradited from France this summer to face charges in the 1977 bludgeoning murder of his girlfriend in Pennsylvania. He is now awaiting a new trial in that state.

Spain abolished the death penalty after the end of its 1939-75 dictatorship.


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