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Slovakia to extradite Italian suspect named by murdered journalist

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Slovakia to extradite Italian suspect named by murdered journalist
Police outside a house linked to Italian businessman Antonin Vadala in Slovakia. Photo: Roman Hanc/News Agency of the Slovak Republic (TASR)/AFP
14:34 CEST+02:00
Slovak prosecutors decided on Friday to extradite an Italian businessman wanted in Italy on drugs charges, who was also named by murdered journalist Jan Kuciak in an explosive report on alleged high-level corruption linked to the mafia.

Police arrested Antonino Vadala, the owner of several companies based in Slovakia, in March in connection with a European arrest warrant issued by Italy last year over alleged drug trafficking. Vadala also faces charges of attempted EU subsidy fraud in Slovakia. He has flatly denied the allegations, which were first made public in Kuciak's article.

The Italian had been detained and released earlier in March month over the alleged fraud.

"The Regional Prosecutor's Office of Kosice on Friday issued a decision to execute the European arrest warrant issued by a court in Venice against the Italian entrepreneur Antonin Vadala," spokesman Milan Filicko said in a statement, using another name for Antonino Vadala.

"The legal deadline for the physical handover of the person to the competent Italian authorities is 10 days," Filicko said, adding that Vadala had not appealed against the extradition.

READ ALSO: Murdered Slovak journalist was 'investigating Italian mafia'


Photo: Vladimir Simicek/AFP

Vadala's name was mentioned several times in Kuciak's last unfinished investigative report, which was published after the journalist and his fiancee were found shot dead at their home near Bratislava in late February.

The murders and the article sparked nationwide anti-government protests in the EU country of 5.4 million people, forcing the resignation in March of populist prime minister Robert Fico. Kuciak's article raised possible political links to Italian businessmen with alleged ties to Calabria's notorious 'Ndrangheta mafia, supposedly operating in eastern Slovakia.

The EU member's National Criminal Agency (NAKA) investigator began criminal proceeding against Valdala in April. He is alleged to have attempted to trick the Slovak Agriculture Paying Agency to pay out subsidies amounting to roughly €120,000 through one of his companies. He falsely declared liabilities connected with the conditions for the agricultural subsidies to be paid.

Organizers have called another anti-government protest for Friday to honour the memory of the murdered couple on the eve of their wedding that was supposed to take place on May 5th. 

READ ALSO: Press freedom in Italy: Key things to know


Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

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