Suspect returns to France from Ivory Coast

March 4, 2006 at 10:54 PM

PARIS, March 4 (UPI) -- The suspected ringleader in a kidnapping and killing allegedly motivated by anti-Semitism was escorted to a French military plane Saturday in the Ivory Coast.

Youssef Fofana, a French citizen, was arrested in Abidjan last month. He allegedly fled to Ivory Coast after Ilan Halimi was kidnapped, tortured and killed.

Fofana was turned over to French soldiers at the airport, the BBC reported. President Laurent Gbagbo approved the extradition Friday.

Halimi died shortly after he was found naked and burned, dumped near a railroad track in the Paris suburbs. His kidnappers allegedly held him in a basement room in a housing project in Bagneux for three weeks, torturing him because they believed he had money.

Fofana admitted to police in Ivory Coast that he was involved in the kidnapping, the BBC said, but denied killing Halimi.

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