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Last updated: November 22, 2005 5:41 pm

Black given extra time to prepare

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The arraignment of Conrad Black, the former media mogul, was delayed until November 30 after US prosecutors gave him more time to prepare his defence against fraud charges.

Lord Black and two co-defendants failed to appear in court to enter pleas as scheduled on Tuesday after being charged last week over their role in the sale of newspaper assets while executives at Hollinger, the media group.

US prosecutors said they would seek the extradition of the defendants should they fail to turn themselves in, but on Tuesday said they expected them to appear next week, and “hopefully” would not need to exercise arrest warrants.

Lord Black, Jack Boultbee and Peter Atkinson are understood to be in Canada, and legal experts said any attempt at extradition would be a lengthy process. Mark Kipnis, the fourth defendant who is a US citizen, has pleaded not guilty to related charges levelled in June, and is also due to enter a plea next week.

Robert Kent, the assistant US attorney, said prosecutors were informed on Monday night that Lord Black was seeking more time. “Mr Black is in the process of deciding who will represent him before the court,” said Mr Kent, before Judge Amy St Eve.

Lord Black and his co-defendants face 11 counts of fraud in a 60-page indictment drawn up by Patrick Fitzgerald, the high-profile US attorney at the centre of the CIA leaks investigation. Each count carries a maximum sentence of five years, as well as a $250,000 fine.

Mr Boultbee, who served as counsel and personal lawyer to Lord Black, and Mr Atkinson, a former executive vice-president at Hollinger, both failed to appear in court on Tuesday, citing the need for more time to prepare their defences. “We expect Mr Black to be here [next week], and we are hopeful that Mr Boultbee and Mr Atkinson will appear,” said Mr Kent.

Ravelston, a Canadian entity controlled by Lord Black and others, on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to charges related to its role in the alleged fraud.

Prosecutors are seeking the return of $83.8m, which they allege the quartet sought to defraud from Hollinger during the company’s sale of hundreds of local newspapers in Canada and the US.

David Radler, once Lord Black’s business confidante, has pleaded guilty to fraud charges related to the sale of newspapers at the centre of the new indictment.

Additional reporting by Madelaine Drohan in Ottawa

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