Lee Murray Re-Arrested on $92 Million Bank Heist Charges in Morocco
Posted Jun 25, 2009 10:27AM By Mike Chiappetta (RSS feed)
Lee Murray's freedom was short-lived. The ex-UFC fighter who is one of the most wanted men in the UK for allegedly masterminding a $92 million cash depot heist in Tonbridge, has been re-arrested in Morocco following the hearing that refused his extradition.
"Lee was indeed rearrested right away, because the British Authorities did put [in"> a formal request to the Moroccan Authorities to have him tried in Morocco for the alleged robbery," his attorney Abdellah Benlamhidi told FanHouse via email.
The Feb. 22, 2006 Securitas bank depot heist in Tonbridge, England netted a gang of thieves over 53 million, or the equivalent of over $92 million US at the time.
Five of the seven men involved in the direct raid have been sentenced for their crimes in the UK, while a sixth is still awaiting trial. Murray is the only one who has escaped the grasp of the UK legal system, which has spent much of the last three years trying to get Murray extradited in hopes of trying him under British law.
Murray, who fled to Morocco shortly after the robbery, claimed Moroccan citizenship in hopes of stiff-arming any attempts at extradition. His father, Ibrahim Murray, is Moroccan, and though Murray was born in the UK, Moroccan law holds that its citizens can not be extradited, no matter what the crime. On Wednesday, Moroccan courts ruled Murray to be Moroccan and briefly released him before re-arresting him.
Murray was originally arrested in Rabat, Morocco for cocaine possession in 2006 and sentenced to eight months. Since then, he has been held in prison while authorities determined his citizenship, and ultimately, his extradition status. In February 2007, British authorities offered to exchange suspected terrorist Mohmed Karbouzi for Murray, whom they considered the ringleader of the heist.
Ironically, just over a week ago, it was reported that Murray tried to escape from prison after small saws were found in his cell.
The 31-year-old was 8-2 with one no contest and one no decision in his career, and once went the distance in a loss to current UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. In his only UFC fight, he defeated Jorge Rivera by triangle choke at UFC 46. Murray was invited back to the UFC but was never able to return and fight in the U.S. because of visa problems.
Murray gained a measure of cult fame in the MMA world before ever debuting in the UFC for his role in a London street fight with ex-UFC champion Tito Ortiz. In September 2005 -- just months before the heist -- Murray nearly died in a nightclub stabbing.
UK authorities are now expected to work with the police in Morrocco.
"I do expect the trial to start soon," Benlamidi told FanHouse.
Four of the Securitas thieves sentenced in the UK were ordered to serve sentences of a minimum of 15 years while a fifth will serve a minimum of 10. If convicted, Murray, however, will be sentenced under Moroccan law.
Murray's life and the bank heist are the basis for a movie currently under pre-production by Time, Inc.