The Swiss judicial authorities will be allowed to assist their Italian counterparts in the case of the suspected Mafia boss and cigarette smuggler, Gerardo Cuomo. The federal court threw out a legal challenge by the Italian, who is due to appear in court in Lugano on corruption charges on Monday.This content was published on June 16, 2001 - 20:19
Cuomo's lawyer, Mauro Mini, said he was not surprised by the court's decision to reject the appeal which he said was based on "trivialities" concerning the process of cross-border judicial assistance.
Cuomo, who owns a tobacco import-export company in Lugano, is accused by the Italian authorities of masterminding a criminal organisation, dealing in arms and drugs, blackmail and cigarette smuggling.
He is also suspected of having laundered the proceeds of his illegal operations through Swiss banks.
The 56-year-old was arrested in Zurich in May last year after Italy issued an international arrest warrant. The incident led to a diplomatic row between Switzerland and Italy, which accused the Swiss authorities of "sheltering" Cuomo for more than two years.
The Swiss justice ministry finally gave the order for Cuomo to be extradited to Italy in November last year. His appeal against this decision was rejected in April. However Cuomo will only be sent back once the Lugano trial ends later this month.
Cuomo is accused of bribing a top Ticino judge, Franco Verda, who was later forced to resign, in what is known as "Ticinogate". Verda was allegedly paid SFr800,000 by Cuomo in return for releasing confiscated funds belonging to one of the Italian's business partners.
swissinfo with agencies
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