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Switzerland approves Italian extradition request

Gerardo Cuomo faces extradition to Italy.

(Keystone / AP Photo / Paolo Ferrari)

The Swiss justice ministry has given the go-ahead for the suspected boss of a cigarette smuggling ring, Gerardo Cuomo, to be extradited to Italy. The decision follows the signing of an agreement on legal cooperation between the two countries.

Cuomo, a resident of canton Ticino, has 30 days to appeal the extradition, which was approved by Bern on Tuesday.

The 54-year-old Italian was arrested in Zurich last May on suspicion of money laundering and being a member of a criminal organisation. Italy filed an extradition request soon afterwards.

The case led to a high-profile corruption scandal in Ticino, in which two high-ranking justice officials, including the head of the criminal court, Franco Verda, were implicated.

Verda was imprisoned in August on charges of corruption, accepting bribes and violating confidentiality laws. He was dismissed from his post in October.

The Cuomo case also soured relations between Switzerland and Italy, after the Italian finance minister, Ottaviano Del Turco, accused Switzerland of failing to support Italy's efforts to crack down on smugglers.

The countries have since patched up their differences, and signed an agreement on legal cooperation.

swissinfo with agencies

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