A Channel migrant accused of drugging, raping and strangling to death a 13-year-old girl weeks before arriving in the UK on a small boat has today been ordered back to Austria to stand trial.
Afghan-born Rasuili Zubaidullah, 23, is accused of drugging, raping and suffocating teenager Leonie Walner in Vienna in June last year.
The 13-year-old’s body was found rolled up in a carpet in the capital on June 26.
Weeks after the teenager was found dead, Zubaidullah boarded a boatload of refugees and claimed asylum in Britain, allegedly under a fake name.
Austrian authorities later tipped off British police that he was a suspect in Leonie’s murder and he was arrested by a UK extradition unit.
Lawyers have since tried to argue the Channel migrant should not be extradited to Austria because he is a suspect and has not been formally charged.
But a judge today rejected Zubaidullah’s bid and ordered his extradition to Austria within 17 days.
Zubaidullah will be allowed to appeal the ruling, but will remain in custody during any appeal.
During a hearing at Westminster Magistates’ Court today, District Judge Michael Snow told him: ‘I am afraid I am going to reject your challenges and, as a result, you must return to Austria to stand trial in respect of these allegations.’
Leonie Walner’s body was found rolled up in a carpet in the Austrian capital of Vienna last June
Police believe Leonie was taken to a flat alongside three people before she was killed.
It is believed Zubaidullah met Leonie in a nightlife district along the Danube Canal a day earlier.
Weeks after she was found dead, Zubaidullah boarded a boatload of refugees and claimed asylum in Britain.
He is believed to have provided authorities in Kent with a fake name on 18 July last year after successfully crossing the Channel.
He was living at a taxpayer-funded hostel in Whitechapel, east London, for two weeks before Austrian police tipped off British authorities, and he was arrested by officers from the National Extradition Unit on 29 July last year.
It was initially believed Zubaidullah had made his way to Italy before it became clear he had sneaked into the UK.
Appearing in custody from Wandsworth jail in south London for a five-minute hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court, he sat stone-faced in grey prison uniform as he was told his application to stay in the UK was being refused.
He spoke only to confirm he understood proceedings, which were translated to him by a Farsi interpreter.
Jonathan Swain, prosecuting, told an earlier hearing: ‘This case relates to a warrant issued by Austrian authorities on 29 July this year. This was certified by the National Crime Agency a day later.
‘Zubaidullah is suspected of committing two offences on 25 and 26 June last year, which are described as a wilful collaboration with three named people.
‘He coerced the alleged victim by force and got her to engage in and acquiesce to sexual intercourse by force.
‘He gave her seven ecstasy pills before having vaginal intercourse with her.
‘It is said the victim was grabbed and choked until she was unable to breathe and suffocated, and therefore she ultimately died.
‘The second charge relates to the fact he had sex with her when she was under 14 years old.’
Rasuili Zubaidullah is accused of the drugging, rape and suffocation of 13-year-old schoolgirl Leonie Walner
His lawyer Ben Keith objected to extradition under Section 12A of the Extradition Act 2003, claiming the Austrian authorities had not yet decided to charge Zubiadullah.
He said: ‘The issue is whether this case is in fact going to proceed to prosecution and whether this defendant is going to be prosecuted.
‘The court could request further information, or it could discharge this case.
‘We say the fact Austrian authorities have tried to interview this defendant is evidence that the reason they have not progressed this far is not because the defendant is not in the country, but because he is still at the investigation stage.
‘There is enough information to show no decision has been made to charge him.’
However District Judge Snow rejected the lawyer’s objection and ordered Zubiadullah be extradited.
He has seven days to appeal the ruling, and if he does not, he will be sent back to Austria within 17 days. He was remanded into custody in the meantime.
The case has raised concerns that checks on Afghan refugees coming into the country are not strict enough, especially at a time when border crossings have reached record highs.