PARIS — An Algerian man who fled house arrest in France five years after his conviction in a terror-linked case was arrested on Thursday in Switzerland after applying for asylum, Swiss police said.
A special intervention squad arrested 43-year-old Merouane Benhamed in Vallorbe, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Lausanne, in the Vaud region, a police statement said. He had applied for asylum in Switzerland a day earlier, thus signaling his whereabouts.
French authorities had been trying to locate the 43-year-old Benhamed since he slipped away from house arrest two weeks ago, on Sept. 8.
Portrayed as a former militant with the Algerian extremist Armed Islamic Group, which carried out brutal attacks in the North African country in the early 1990s, Benhamed fled to France. He was among 25 people convicted in 2006 for plotting an attack in support of Islamist fighters in Chechnya. He was freed from prison in 2011, but since then was under house arrest.
France uses house arrest to monitor foreign ex-convicts who have served their terms and are no longer wanted in France, but can’t be deported. Benhamed was convicted in absentia in Algeria and sentenced to death and can’t be returned to his homeland.
Swiss authorities jailed Benhamed ahead of extradition proceedings, which could take time because he refused a simplified formula for extradition, the police statement said.
More than a half-dozen foreigners convicted in France for terror-linked crimes are currently under house arrest, usually sent to far-flung towns where they must report to police several times a day.
This story has been corrected to show that the arrest was on Thursday, not Wednesday.