Italian businessman consents to extradition after mafia association reference removed

The man voluntarily decided to return to his homeland to face amended charges of criminal conspiracyThe man voluntarily decided to return to his homeland to face amended charges of criminal conspiracy

Italian businessman Antonio Ricci, who had been fighting extradition since last year, has voluntarily decided to return to his homeland to face amended charges of criminal conspiracy.

Ricci, 43, who has been living in Malta together with his wife and children for the past ten years, was scheduled to have his case decided on January 16 following a New Year’s Eve sitting in which the court had heard final submissions.

But when the case resumed this morning, the court noted that Ricci’s lawyers had filed a note of “voluntary surrender” on January 7, at their client’s behest. The note made it clear that Ricci was to face prosecution in Italy solely in terms of a European Arrest Warrant issued on December 20, 2019 and not for any other offences mentioned in an earlier EAW which had been rejected on appeal by Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera last June. 

A review Tribunal in Reggio Calabria had cancelled the “mafia association” reference in respect of Ricci on September 27, 2019, leaving him liable to prosecution only for criminal conspiracy. 

“Before filing the note, we wanted to be certain. Not 100% but 300%,” lawyer Arthur Azzopardi told the court this morning. 

“Those were the instructions of our client. We were prepared to go the full course like last time,” the lawyer explained, adding that the legal team had consulted with Ricci before the start of the sitting and that he had once again confirmed he was consenting to be sent back to Italy and formally renouncing to any form of litigation currently pending before the Maltese Courts.

Azzopardi emphasised that this voluntary surrender was being made irrevocably, but “strictly in terms of the last EAW issued by the Italian authorities,” without the “mafia association” and without renouncing to the rule of speciality.

Having taken note of the declarations, Magistrate Nadine Lia declared that Ricci was to be remanded in custody pending his return to Reggio Calabria after the lapse of the statutory 10-day period.

Superintendent Christopher Galea Scannura and Inspector Mark Galea from the International Relations Unit prosecuted, assisted by lawyers Matthew Xuereb and Charles Mercieca from the Office of the Attorney General.

Lawyers Franco Debono, Arthur Azzopardi, Stephen Tonna Lowell and Amadeus Cachia were defence counsel to Ricci.

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