Two top justice officials in canton Ticino temporarily stepped down from their posts on Wednesday for the duration of an investigation into possible wrongdoing.
It came a day after the cantonal government announced that it had started a preliminary inquiry against the chief prosecutor, Luca Marcellini, and the criminal court judge, Franco Verda, for malfeasance.
No details of the charges have been made public, but it is believed they are suspected of granting a measure of protection to an Italian businessman, Gerardo Cuomo.
Cuomo was arrested for allegedly fronting an international cigarette smuggling ring. He is suspected of running the operation out of Ticino where he lived during the 1990s.
The authorities in Ticino welcomed the decision by the two men to step down as being in their own interest, the interest of justice, as well as in the interest of the special prosecutor appointed to head the investigation.
swissinfo with agencies