By Humphrey Carter

GIOVANNI Di Stefano, the Italian lawyer who acted as a consultant to Saddam Hussein's defence team and was arrested at his Son Vida home on the outskirts of Palma on Monday night on suspicion of fraud, robbery and money laundering on a British warrant issued by the City of London Police, moved a step closer to being extradited to the United Kingdom yesterday.

While he remains in Son Espases Hospital recovering from surgery for prostrate cancer he underwent on Tuesday, he has since been declared fit and a Palma judge yesterday ordered that a full medical be taken and, pending the results, the so called “devil's advocate”, could be on his way to Madrid and then the UK within a matter of hours or days, if the arrest warrant is upheld by the Spanish High Court.

He has to go to Madrid first to appear before the Supreme Court and then he could be extradited to London where he faces 18 counts of alleged wrong doing and faces a maximum sentence of 75 years in jail. Di Stefano, however, is expected to fight extradition. He claims he is a victim of a conspiracy to silence him because of his involvement in attempts to indict former British Prime Minister Tony Blair over the Iraq War. The Italian has said the charges against him are all false and have been made up.

Giovanni di Stefano, who represented former Iraqi deputy prime minister Tareq Aziz, first wrote to the British government's chief legal adviser in mid-December, 2009 with a “request for consent to prosecute” Tony Blair. Di Stefano is part of a team of lawyers acting on behalf of the overthrown Iraqi leadership and in 2009 asked Britain´s Attorney General for consent to prosecute Tony Blair, claiming that an interview which Blair gave to the BBC revealed offences contrary to the Geneva Conventions. Di Stefano's Studio Legale Internazionale law firm represented Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, who was deposed by the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

In comments released from the BBC television interview at the time, Blair said he would have backed the invasion of Iraq even if he knew that it had no weapons of mass destruction, the main justification at the time.

GENEVA CONVENTION “In summary the allegation against... Blair involves a violation of offences within the Geneva Conventions Act 1957 which without doubt and by his own admission can only but be deemed ‘not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly',” said di Stefano's letter to the Attorney General quoting the conventions.

Aziz “is but one in millions affected by the actions (taken by) Blair and others... whom we seek your leave to issue proceedings (against) as per above forthwith.” Di Stefano is facing charges of alleged fraud, theft and money laundering in London but it would appear that the Italian lawyer has never given up on his attempt to indict Tony Blair. Only ten days before he was arrested at his Son Vida home, he was in Iraq, apparently collecting further evidence against the former British prime minister.

His Palma lawyer says his client does not want to be tried in the UK.