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US child rape suspect to leave HK
One of the America's most wanted fugitives agrees to "voluntary" extradition.
Last Modified: 10 Sep 2007 08:27 GMT
Freeman, centre, was seized by Hong Kong police after trying to cross the border from China [Reuters]

One of the America's most wanted fugitives, accused of raping his daughter and posting a video of the attack on the internet, has agreed to be extradited from Hong Kong.

 

Kenneth Freeman, 45, was held in Hong Kong after a worldwide manhunt and had earlier contested an extradition request.

He faces charges including child rape and production of child pornography and could be jailed for life if convicted.

 

Appearing in court in Hong Kong on Monday Freeman said he "voluntarily" accepted extradition, saying "I believe it's in my best interests".

Freeman, a former sheriff's deputy, wore handcuffs as he signed documents giving consent for his surrender to US authorities.

 

Freeman had been the subject
of a world-wide manhunt
Described by the US Marshals Service as "one of the world's most notorious accused child molesters", Freeman fled his Seattle home in early 2006 soon after charges were brought against him.

 

He was eventually traced to the Chinese city of Suzhou near Shanghai, but a lack of extradition treaty between the United States and China meant no action could be taken.

 

Instead law US officials waited for him to leave China, organising a sting operation with Hong Kong police when he attempted to enter the territory in May this year.

 

As a special administrative region of China, Hong Kong has a separate judicial system that allows extraditions to the US.

 

Freeman's lawyer, Giles Surman, said Freeman's consent to the extradition had "absolutely no bearing whatsoever on his innocence, he maintains his innocence".

 

"We did not want a lot of the material that is or may be presented against him in court in the U.S. rehearsed here, where we don't have the benefit of questioning live witnesses," Surman said.

Source:
Agencies
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