Court throws out Cuomo extradition appeal

Gerardo Cuomo is in custody in canton Ticino Keystone

Switzerland's Federal Court has thrown out an appeal against extradition by the suspected boss of an international cigarette smuggling ring, Gerardo Cuomo. The ruling paves the way for Cuomo to be sent back to Italy to face charges.

This content was published on April 24, 2001 minutes

The court's decision on Tuesday means that Cuomo's extradition to Italy, ordered by the Swiss justice ministry last November, can proceed, provided the Italian justice authorities drop one of the charges against him.

The 54-year-old Italian, who is currently in custody in the canton of Ticino, was arrested in Zurich last May on an Italian warrant, on suspicion of cigarette smuggling and being a member of a criminal organisation. Italy filed an extradition request soon afterwards.

Italy also accuses Cuomo of masterminding a criminal organisation, dealing in weapons and drugs, and laundering the proceeds through Swiss banks.

The court said it was allowing the extradition on the grounds that Italy had good reason to suspect that Cuomo was a member of a criminal organisation. It made clear, however, that Rome would have to drop its charges of cigarette smuggling because the (customs) offence is not a crime under Swiss law.

The court added that no further appeal against extradition would be allowed. Cuomo was also ordered to pay legal costs of SFr5,000 ($2,950).

A spokesman for the justice ministry, Folco Galli, said there was an additional barrier to Cuomo's extradition - namely the case lodged against him by the justice authorities in canton Ticino. He said Cuomo could only be sent back once he had answered charges in Ticino or if the canton was prepared to drop its case.

Cuomo is accused of bribing a top Ticino judge, Franco Verda, who was later forced to resign. Cuomo allegedly paid the judge a substantial sum in return for releasing confiscated funds belonging to one of Cuomo's business partners.

swissinfo with agencies

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