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CRIME

Mafia boss in London ‘fears reprisal killing’

An Italian mafia boss who was arrested in London after two decades on the run told police he feared he would be killed if he returned to face justice, a court heard on Thursday.

Mafia boss in London 'fears reprisal killing'
Domenico Rancadore was arrested on August 8th. Photos: HO/Italian Interior Minister Press Office/AFP (L) Metropolitan Police (R)

Domenico Rancadore, 64, is wanted in Italy to serve a seven-year jail term for his role in the Sicilian mafia. Known in the mafia as "The Professor", he had been on Rome's list of most dangerous criminals.

Rancadore had been living in a modest suburban house in west London under the name of Marc Skinner, with his English wife and children, when he was arrested on August 8th.

He was denied bail for a second time at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London on Thursday after prosecutor Aaron Watkins argued there were "overwhelming grounds" to suspect that he would go on the run again if granted bail.

The court heard that Rancadore had told British officers upon his arrest: "I'm not going back, they will kill me."

Watkins said it was "telling" that Rancadore, a former teacher, had spoken openly of his unwillingness to return.

Wearing a rugby shirt, Rancadore clutched a white Bible as he listened from the dock.

He shook his head as the judge denied his request for bail, and exchanged glances with his wife Anne Skinner, who was watching from the gallery.

Rancadore had offered his wife's home as a surety for bail, along with £10,000 (€11,700), the court heard.

Judge Quentin Purdy told Rancadore: "It seems to me clear that if you are released on bail there is a risk you will disappear. 

"I can see no grounds to grant you bail and be satisfied that you will return."

Rancadore will appear before the same court on September 20th, Purdy said. 

Prosecutors told the court earlier this month that Rancadore was a leader in a gang that "spread terror" on the Italian island of Sicily, "systematically murdering anybody who did not comply with the will of the members of the organisation".

But defence barrister Alun Jones questioned on Thursday whether he had a senior role in the mafia.

Rancadore suffers from high blood pressure, angina and reflux, Jones added.

"In our submission a man in this condition, with family ties to this country, with his wife's house and £10,000, is not going to abscond," he told the court.

Rancadore was convicted in his absence of Mafia links in Italy after he went on the run and moved to Britain in 1993.

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CRIME

New York returns millions worth of stolen art to Italy

Prosecutors in New York on Tuesday returned dozens of antiquities stolen from Italy and valued at around $19 million, some of which were found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

New York returns millions worth of stolen art to Italy

“These 58 pieces represent thousands of years of rich history, yet traffickers throughout Italy utilized looters to steal these items and to line their own pockets,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, noting that it was the third such repatriation in nine months.

“For far too long, they have sat in museums, homes, and galleries that had no rightful claim to their ownership,” he said at a ceremony attended by Italian diplomats and law enforcement officials.

The stolen items had been sold to Michael Steinhardt, one of the world’s leading collectors of ancient art, the DA’s office said, adding that he had been slapped with a “first-of-its-kind lifetime ban on acquiring antiquities.”

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Among the recovered treasures, which in some cases were sold to “unwitting collectors and museums,” were a marble head of the Greek goddess Athena from 200 B.C.E. and a drinking cup dating back to 470 B.C.E, officials said.

The pieces were stolen at the behest of four men who “all led highly lucrative criminal enterprises – often in competition with one another – where they would use local looters to raid archaeological sites throughout Italy, many of which were insufficiently guarded,” the DA’s office said.

One of them, Pasquale Camera, was “a regional crime boss who organized thefts from museums and churches as early as the 1960s. He then began purchasing stolen artifacts from local looters and sold them to antiquities dealers,” it added.

It said that this year alone, the DA’s office has “returned nearly 300 antiquities valued at over $66 million to 12 countries.”

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