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U.S. extradites murder suspect

Dickinson murder suspect Arce Montez
Montez was arrested in Miami after allegations of lewd behaviour  

PARIS, France -- The man accused of murdering a British schoolgirl during a school trip to France in 1996 is being extradited from the United States.

The Florida state prosecutors department said Francisco Arce Montez was handed over to American federal marshals in Miami on Monday after local prosecutors freed him on unrelated state charges.

The move clears the way for Montez to be flown to France to stand trial for the murder of 13-year-old Caroline Dickinson.

The 51-year-old Spanish waiter is alleged to have raped and murdered the teenager in a hostel room in Brittany during a school trip in July 1996.

Caroline's father John, of Bodmin, Cornwall, southwest England, said he was aware of the latest developments, but added: "The family do not feel it appropriate to make any comment while legal proceedings are pending in France."

A spokesman for the Florida prosecutors office said Montez had appeared in handcuffs at Florida State Court in Miami in front of Judge David Young, on charges of burglary and committing lewd behaviour.

He was told he could accept a plea bargain deal, where he would be freed from local prison if he pleaded guilty to the charges, which were brought after he was arrested in the Miami Beach area in March.

But Montez refused and prosecutors then moved to reduce the bail, setting him free from local custody.

"We basically took our handcuffs off him and the federal marshals put theirs on," said the spokesman.

'DNA match'

The marshals had a State Department arrest warrant and immediately took him into custody to await being handed over to French authorities, who were waiting in Miami.

Montez was expected to be put on a flight from Miami to Paris at 5.45pm local time (2245 GMT) on Monday, arriving in Paris on Tuesday morning.

The spokesman told the Press Association: "The victims in this case were extremely eager that the case in France went ahead."

Montez was arrested in Miami in March after two allegations of lewd behaviour, one in a youth hostel, and the other in a woman's home.

The next month, an American immigration officer who had been in Britain on business and read about Caroline's murder, ran Montez's name through immigration databases on his return home and learned of his arrest in Florida.

Authorities in the state said they took DNA samples from Montez, and discovered that they had a "100 percent match" with the DNA taken from the scene of the Dickinson murder.


• Devon and Cornwall Constabulary

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