mercoledì 14 maggio 2014

French court upholds Rizzo extradition to Italy

Wife of convicted mafia fugitive arrested at Nice airport

(ANSA) - Genoa, May 14 - A French court upheld Italy's extradition request for Chiara Rizzo, wife of former MP and convicted mafia fugitive Amedeo Matacena, on Wednesday. Rizzo was arrested Monday at the Nice airport and could be returned Friday to Italy where she faces allegations of mafia association and conspiracy.

Rizzo had been arrested right after her flight landed from Dubai, where her husband is a fugitive from Italian justice after receiving a binding five-year conviction for mafia links. Rizzo said then that she was ready to "put herself at the disposal" of the Italian justice system and "clear up" the matter of her husband, who is said to be close to the Rosmini clan of Calabria's notorious 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate.

Last week the affair made headlines after former cabinet minister Claudio Scajola was arrested and put under investigation for alleged criminal conspiracy and mafia association, on suspicion he helped Matacena flee. Investigators claim Scajola, a 66-year-old member of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right Forza Italia (FI) party and former industry and interior minister under separate Berlusconi governments, tried to help Matacena reach the Lebanese capital Beirut from Dubai.

On Tuesday, investigators said that among the papers seized from Scajola was a letter attributed to former Lebanese president Amine Gemayel and marked with notes in Scajola's handwriting concerning Matacena fleeing to Lebanon. A spokesman for Gemayel has previously said that suggestions of a relationship with Scajola were "totally false". That statement came after an Italian judge said last Friday that Scajola had boasted he was in touch with a Lebanese cabinet minister who could help hide fugitive Italian politicians.

Scajola allegedly made the boast last October during a taped telephone call to Rizzo, according to a judge involved in the case. Prosecutors have said Scajola and the seven other people against whom arrest warrants have been served in connection with the case were "the terminus of a complex and largely secret criminal system that also operated on foreign territory". 

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