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Italian prosecutor tells of Swiss involved in smuggling ring

An Italian state prosecutor told a Ticinese newspaper on Sunday that eight Swiss nationals are wanted by the anti-Mafia squad in Bari in connection with laundering money.

Giuseppe Scelsi revealed in an interview with the paper "Il Caffe delle Domenica" how some of the Swiss ordered to appear in an Italian criminal court had been directly involved in laundering money from illegal drugs and arms deals in the Yugoslav republic of Montenegro.

On Friday Scelsi filed a request that 84 people, including the Swiss, should appear before the court in Bari to face charges.

Among those suspected of illegal activities is the alleged boss of the ring, Gerardo Cuomo, who is in police custody in Lugano, and the Mafia boss, Francesco Prudentino.

The charges range from smuggling to murder, money laundering and tax evasion.

On Saturday the Ticinese newspaper "Corriere del Ticino" reported that seven Swiss had been charged by the Bari authorities, including the banker, Alexander Hagsteiner and the 'bureau de change' operators, Adriano Corti and Alfred Bossert.

Corti has in the past been used a key informer by canton Ticino's police force.

Cuomo, meanwhile, who has been held by Ticino's judicial authorities since May 10, could be extradited to Italy. However, the Swiss Justice Ministry has yet to decide whether to hand him over to the Italians.

The Ticinese investigating prosecutor, Luciano Guidici, has also started judicial proceedings against Cuomo, who has been linked to Ticino's former top criminal magistrate, Franco Verda. He is being investigated for accepting bribes and partiality.

swissinfo with agencies

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