Serbia refuses to extradite fugitive Romanian businessman

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BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — A Serbian court has refused to extradite to Romania a fugitive businessman and former lawmaker indicted on wide-ranging corruption charges, saying he has been granted asylum in the Balkan country.

The Higher Court in Belgrade said Friday that authorities approved Sebastian Ghita's asylum request in June. The statement says asylum was granted because of "threat of persecution in the country of origin over political opinion."

Ghita was arrested last year in Serbia months after he illegally left Romania, where he was charged with bribery, blackmail and money laundering. While missing, Ghita released a series of televised allegations boasting of a close family relationship with a top intelligence officer, who stepped down amid the furor.

The Serbian court says an appeals court also will review the case.

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