Italian wanted for extradition over money laundering back in court

The charge of association with the mafia has been dropped by the prosecution against 43-year-old Antonio Ricci

Antonio Ricci was arrested on a European Arrest Warrant
Antonio Ricci was arrested on a European Arrest Warrant

Antonio Ricci, an Italian national who avoided being extradited to Italy on charges of laundering 'Ndrangheta mafia funds last June, is back in court after a European arrest warrant was issued by Italian authorities. 

Ricci was arrested in Malta on Friday. He returned to the dock on Saturday where a court presided over by magistrate Doreen Clarke heard bail submissions for three whole hours. 

Ricci is wanted by a court in Reggio Calabria to answer to charges that he laundered money through his iGaming company. He is one of a list of men, alongside Yorgen Fenech, charged with complicity to murder journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, to be charged by a Catania court with illegal betting.

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Ricci had previously been connected with the Calabrian mafia but the prosecution has dropped the mafia association charges, MaltaToday is informed. The charges of money laundering through his iGaming company remain.

Ricci was previously listed as a company secretary to the Malta company, Harvey Gaming. 

In a decision handed down last June, it was decided by the court of appeals that Ricci not be extradited because the Italian authorities' investigation into his dealings had not yet been concluded. 

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The documentation provided by the Italian authorities was unclear and at times confusing and contradictory, said Scerri Herrera. “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…”

Ricci was then released before being arrested again on Friday.

Defence lawyers Stephen Tonna Lowell, Franco Debono and Arthur Azzopardi spent over three hours on submissions for bail but bail has been denied at this stage. Amadeus Cachia also appeared for the accused.

Lawyers Matthew Xuereb and Charles Mercieca appeared from the Attorney General's office.

Police superintendent Christopher Galea Scannura and police inspector Mark Galea from the international relations unit prosecuted.