October 28, 2015 / 6:09 PM / in 2 years

Italy court refuses to extradite Tunis museum attack suspect

MILAN (Reuters) - An Italian court on Wednesday turned down a request from Tunisia to extradite a Moroccan man suspected of having supplied weapons for the attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis in March because he might then face the death penalty.

Moroccan citizen Touil Abdelmajid is seen in this undated handout photograph released by Italian police in Milan on May 20, 2015. REUTERS/Italian Police/Handout via Reuters

Italy refuses to extradite suspects to any country if there is a risk they could be executed for the crime.

Tunisia had given Italy no guarantee that Abdelmajid Touil would not face the death penalty, the Milan court of appeals’ president, Giovanni Canzio, said, and he ordered him to be released from jail, where he has been for more than five months.

Police later said they issued an order to deport Touil to Morocco and that he would be held at an immigration center in Turin until then.

Separately, Milan prosecutors asked that the investigation into Touil’s alleged connection to the March 18 attack - in which 21 tourists were shot dead - be dropped for lack of evidence, judicial sources said.

There was no immediate comment from Tunisia.

Touil came to Italy on a migrant boat from Libya in February, before the attack, and was arrested in Milan in May under an international arrest warrant. Touil was 22 at the time of his arrest and denied any involvement in the assault.

He had been staying at with his mother, who is a legal resident in Milan, before being arrested. Police said that they had ordered Touil to be expelled because he is an irregular migrant, but he can still appeal the administrative order.

A Tunisian government official said Touil had supplied the militants with weapons before the attack and then gone by boat to Italy.

His case has fueled fears that Islamist militants might be among the hundreds of thousands of migrants who have crossed the Mediterranean by boat to enter Europe in the past two years.

Reporting by Manuela D'Alessandro and Emilio Parodi; Writing by Steve Scherer; Editing by Louise Ireland

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