Slovakia to extradite Italian suspect named by murdered journalist

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.

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

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


Italian killer with mafia links arrested in France after 16 years on the run

A convicted murderer linked to one of Italy's most powerful mafia organisations was arrested on Thursday in central France, Interpol said.

Italian killer with mafia links arrested in France after 16 years on the run

Edgardo Greco, 63, is suspected of belonging to the notorious ‘Ndrangheta, a powerful mafia organisation in Calabria, southern Italy.

He is wanted in Italy to serve a life sentence for the murders of Stefano and Giuseppe Bartolomeo, and accused of the attempted murder of Emiliano Mosciaro “as part of a mafia war between the Pino Sena and Perna Pranno gangs that marked the early 1990s”, Interpol said.

The Bartolomeo brothers were beaten to death with iron bars in a fish warehouse, Italian police said.

Greco’s arrest in central France came with help for Italy and France from the “Cooperation against ‘Ndrangheta Project” (I-CAN) run by Interpol, which facilitates police cooperation between its 195 member states.

READ ALSO: Italian police seize €250 million and arrest 56 in latest mafia blitz

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi, quoted in Interpol’s statement, said the arrests demonstrated his country’s commitment to “fighting all forms of organised crime and locating dangerous fugitives”.

The ‘Ndrangheta is considered Italy’s most extensive and powerful mafia group, Interpol said, operating worldwide and with strong ties to the trade in cocaine bound for Europe from South America

I-CAN’s job is help raise awareness of ‘Ndrangheta and their modus operandi, sharing police information to dismantle their networks and operations, the agency said.

The arrest of Greco, who worked in the evenings in a pizza restaurant under an assumed named according to Italian media, came a week after Italian police said it had dismantled a ‘Ndrangheta mafia ring dominating a large area of southern Calabria and seized assets exceeding 250 million euros.

Fifty-six people, many already in prison, were put under criminal investigation for a series of crimes including mafia-related conspiracy, extortion, kidnapping, bribery and possession of weapons, police and prosecutors said.

The arrest of Greco comes just over two weeks after Italian police arrested one of the most notorious bosses of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra mafia, Matteo Messina Denaro, who had been on the run for 30 years.

The 60-year-old was arrested after visiting a health clinic where he was being treated in the Sicilian capital Palermo