BERLIN, Apr 18 (Reuters) The United States and Germany signed an accord today aimed at speeding up extraditions, though Berlin will continue to reject requests for individuals who could be put to death, Germany's Justice Ministry said.
''The addendum to the extradition agreement simplifies what has been until now a complex and time-consuming process of certifying and transmitting extradition documentation,'' the ministry said in a statement.
But the amendment is unlikely to remove all friction between Washington and Berlin regarding criminal extraditions. The amendment does not alter the fact that under the 1978 US-German extradition treaty persons who could face the death penalty in the United States cannot be sent there from Germany.
''There will be no extradition if the person sought for extradition could face a death sentence,'' the ministry said.
The amendment was signed in Washington by German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries and her counterpart, US Attorney General Alberto R.
Gonzales, the ministry said.
In December, the United States was irritated by Germany's decision to release a Hizbollah hijacker from prison after he served 19 years for the 1985 killing of a US Navy diver.
Shortly after his arrest in Germany in 1987, the United States had requested his extradition but this was rejected since the Lebanese man could have faced the death penalty. Washington hoped to get him after he had served his German sentence.
In December 2005, Germany quietly let him return to Lebanon.
Washington vowed to hunt the man down and has asked Beirut to hand him over.
REUTERS KD PM0004