The Malta Independent 5 December 2020, Saturday

No extradition: Criminal Appeals Court overturns magistrates’ court decision

Friday, 14 June 2019, 15:00 Last update: about 2 years ago

The Court of Criminal Appeal has overturned the decision to extradite a man who is wanted in Italy as part of an investigation into the laundering of mafia money.

Antonio Ricci, listed as a company secretary to the Malta company Harvey Gaming, had been arrested in late April through a European Arrest Warrant issued by a court in Calabria, on suspicion of laundering ‘Ndrangheta mafia funds.

Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech had upheld the request for his extradition in May, ruling that the legal prerequisites had been satisfied.

Ricci had filed an appeal against the judgment.

In a decision handed down earlier today, Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera overturned the court of magistrates’ decision, ruling that Ricci should not be extradited because the Italian authorities’ investigation into his dealings had not yet been concluded.

The judge clarified that this did not mean that in order for an extradition to take place there had to be an ongoing court case, but pointed out that because he was only wanted for investigation and not prosecution, the court could not treat him as a person accused.

Not only had court proceedings against Ricci not yet started, noted the court, but there was a chance that they would not start at all and that the man be released before being charged.

The documentation provided by the Italian authorities was unclear and at times confusing and contradictory, said the judge. “Before these conflicts emerging from the acts, this court is not of the opinion that the appellant is required for the purposes of prosecution but it emerges that the investigation is not yet closed… On the basis of these considerations, this court does not agree that the European Arrest Warrant was issued for the purposes of prosecution but believes that there are other instruments which that could have been used…”

For this reason, the sentence ordering his extradition was revoked and the court ordered Ricci’s immediate release.

Lawyers Franco Debono, Arthur Azzopardi, Stephen Tonna Lowell and Mario Mifsud appeared on behalf of Ricci.
Police Inspectors Mark Galea and Robinson Mifsud prosecuted.

Lawyers Matthew Xuereb and Charles Mercieca appeared on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General.

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