France says no extradition request received for Ratsiraka

France said on Thursday it has not received an extradition request for exiled former Madagascan president Didier Ratsiraka, who was sentenced in absentia to 10 years of hard labour for theft of public funds, news agencies reported.

"If new developments occur, they will be looked at in compliance with the conventions currently in force, and in accordance with French law," the French news agency, AFP, quoted foreign ministry spokesman Herve Ladsous as saying in Paris.

"National warrants for the arrests of some officials from the former administration were issued after sentences were pronounced in absentia in Madagascar on 6 August. France is not aware of an international warrant issued for the arrest of Mr Ratsiraka," he added.

Ratsiraka's 10-year sentence followed a series of political trials of those involved in the power struggle between current President Marc Ravalomanana and Ratsiraka last year, after disputed election results. The country was split - with two governments, two capitals and two presidents - until Ratsiraka was forced to flee to France in July 2002.

The Central Criminal Court delivered its verdict only a few hours after hearing arguments that Ratsiraka had wrongfully withdrawn US $8,000 from the country's central bank in the eastern port of Tamatave, his last stronghold toward the end of last year's crisis, the Associated Press reported.

The prosecution said at that time Ratsiraka was no longer the president and therefore had no authority to withdraw the money.

Two other leading figures of the former regime - the former minister of finance, Blandin Razafimanjato, and the head of the central bank in Tamatave, Ferdinand Velomita - were sentenced to six years' hard labour by the same court. The two are also in exile in France.