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U.S. set to arrest Spain suspect

MIAMI, Florida -- U.S. authorities have issued an arrest warrant for a Spanish man suspected of killing an English schoolgirl, in the first move to extradite him.

French police want Francisco Arce Montes extradited to France for his alleged role in the 1996 rape and murder of Caroline Dickinson, 13, while she stayed at a French youth hostel.

After testing 3,500 men in Britain and France in their search for Caroline's killer, French police matched Arce's DNA with semen found on her body.

French officials said tests on Arce's saliva provided "sufficient grounds for requesting that this person be returned to French soil."

Affidavits attached to the U.S. warrant said the tests showed Arce's DNA "was identical to that found in the semen belonging to Caroline Dickinson's attacker."

Arce, a 51-year-old native of Gijon Oviedo, Spain, refused to give blood or saliva samples under a federal court order issued earlier this month when the DNA analysis was being planned.

The saliva sample taken after his arrest in March for a sex offence in Miami was used instead.

France issued an international arrest warrant for Arce this month, saying he was wanted for questioning.

He is due to appear in a Miami court on Wednesday.

If Arce fights extradition, France would have two months from its initial request to supply supporting documents, which would lead to a federal magistrate's hearing.

Interpol reports cited by a federal prosecutor indicate Arce apparently has criminal records in Spain and Germany, and he travelled to Argentina, Chile and Peru before flying to Miami as a tourist in February.

In the summary of the case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Brigham said other incidents at youth hostels were linked to Arce.

These included a man being was scared away from a youth hostel an hour's drive from Caroline's hostel about 90 minutes before she was killed.

Arce's wallet contained a number of youth hostel membership cards when he was arrested trying to enter a French hostel in 1994.

He admitted entering the hostel a year before and waking up a sleeping girl. He was released for lack of evidence.

His criminal record includes a five-and-a-half year sentence in Germany for rape and sexual coercion in separate incidents. The Interpol reports said he had more than two years remaining on the sentence but did not explain why he had not completed it, Reuters news agency reported.

He also is a suspect in a 1997 rape in Spain.

Arce gave two different dates of birth and several different versions of his name to U.S. immigration authorities and police.

A U.S. immigration official read about the case in a UK newspaper. Upon learning investigators wanted to interview Arce, the official ran a criminal database search and learned Arce was in jail in Florida.

France sends murder warrant to U.S.
April 19, 2001
DNA 'very similar' to murder samples
April 14, 2001
Girl's murder suspect held in U.S.
April 10, 2001

French Ministry of Justice
Miami Beach Police Department

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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