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Top Ticino criminal judge dismissed

Franco Verda's long and distinguished legal career has come to an end Keystone

Canton Ticino's top criminal court judge, Franco Verda, has been dismissed by the ruling professional body, the Legal Council, following accusations of serious breaches of the law.

The Council said on Wednesday that “disciplinary proceedings started on June 16” were the reason for Verda’s dismissal. He had, however, already been suspended from carrying out his duties in June.

His salary was stopped last month. Verda faces charges in court for allegedly breaching confidentiality rules, partiality in court and accepting bribes. He was arrested on August 4 and has since spent three weeks behind bars in police custody.

Verda was a friend of the alleged boss of an international cigarette-smuggling ring, Gerardo Cuomo, who is also in police custody in Ticino. Verda later admitted with hindsight that it was through Cuomo that he became associated with the criminal underworld.

Verda’s dismissal brings a 29-year legal career to an end. In 1974 he became a judge, after serving as an appeal’s court clerk for three years. Verda recently ruled out returning to practicing law.

The special investigating prosecutor, Luciano Giudici, said the court case against Verda would not be opened until 2001, though the police investigations were almost complete.

Gerardo Cuomo, meanwhile, faces the possibility of extradition to Italy, after a court in Bari ordered that he appear on charges of murder, arms and drugs smuggling and money laundering.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR