Seven acquitted in cigarette smuggling case

The Federal Criminal Court has acquitted seven of nine men on trial in Switzerland's largest case of organised crime.

This content was published on July 8, 2009 - 17:52

The alleged members of an international cigarette smuggling ring, all Swiss residents, had faced charges of supporting Italian criminal organisations and money laundering.

On Wednesday, the court in Bellinzona found two Italians guilty on the first charges.

One received a jail sentence of two years and nine months with the two years suspended while the second was given a two-year suspended sentence.

None of the nine men were found guilty of money laundering.

The defence argued during the three-month trail that neither smuggling nor dealing in cigarettes is a crime in Switzerland.

The Federal Prosecutor's Office said it would consider the possibility of referring the case for appeal to the Federal Court in Lausanne.

The men were accused of being part of a criminal enterprise involved in the smuggling of cigarettes between Montenegro and Italy.

They were said to have laundered more than $1 billion (SFr1.15 billion) from the illegal trade in Switzerland.

In the dock were four Swiss, three Italians, one Spaniard and one Frenchman, living in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino and the French-speaking cantons of Jura and Vaud.

The prosecution claimed that between 1994 and 2001, money from two criminal organisations based in southern Italy, the Camorra of Naples and the Sacra Corona Unita of Apulia, was channelled into the Swiss banking system via money exchange businesses in Ticino.

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