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Fugitive businessman Asil Nadir appeared in court on Friday for the first time since returning to London last month, 17 years after he fled while awaiting trial on fraud and theft charges related to one of Britain's biggest corporate failures.

Nadir, 69, sat behind glass screens in the dock of the Old Bailey court flanked by two court guards, and spoke only to confirm his name during the hour-long hearing.
The Turkish Cypriot businessman, who was a big donor to the Conservative Party, voluntarily returned on August 26 from his home in northern Cyprus, which has no extradition treaty with Britain.

He will stand trial, possibly in October 2011, on charges linked to the failure of his Polly Peck fruit-to-electronics group, which folded in 1990 with debts of 1.3 bln pounds.

Judge David Bean bailed Nadir to return to the court on October 15 and imposed a midnight to 6 a.m. curfew. Nadir must wear an electronic tag to ensure he stays at home at night. He has surrendered his passports and paid a 250,000 pounds surety.
Nadir, wearing a dark suit and silver tie, arrived at court in a Jaguar with several personal security guards running alongside the vehicle. He smiled and posed for the cameras.

The judge rejected a bid by Nadir's lawyers to force the prosecution to speed up its pre-trial preparations.
"The 17-year delay is not the fault of the prosecution, it is the fault of Mr Nadir," Bean told the court.

Nadir's defence lawyer William Clegg said he will try to have the case thrown out before the trial starts, arguing that there has been an abuse of process by investigators.

The collapse of Polly Peck was one of Britain's biggest business failures.
It shook the Conservative government of then Prime Minister John Major and led to the resignation of a minister who had links to the businessman.
Nadir had transformed the business during the 1980s from an ailing textiles firm into a conglomerate that included the Del Monte fruit business and Japan's Sansui electronics firm.

Its share price rose more than 100 times during the boom years, before crashing when the Serious Fraud Office began investigating the company's finances in 1990.
After flying back to Britain, Nadir told reporters he was innocent and had returned to clear his name.

September 03, 2010 - www.financialmirror.com|||Nadir appears in court 17 years after fleeing Britain to Cyprus
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