The authorities in canton Ticino have placed two top justice officials under investigation following a request from the federal prosecutor's office in Berne. The move is reportedly linked to the arrest last month of a suspected international crime boss.
A statement by the cantonal government in Bellinzona confirmed that the chief prosecutor, Luca Marcellini, and the criminal court judge, Marco Verda, were suspected of malfeasance. It said that a special prosecutor had been appointed to head the inquiry, but gave no details about the nature of the allegations.
Marcellini and Verda have not been suspended and will continue to carry out their duties for the duration of the investigation.
Marcellini has denied any wrong-doing. He told reporters that he believed the affair was linked to the arrest last month in Zurich of Gerardo Cuomo, an Italian businessman suspected of fronting an international cigarette-smuggling ring.
Cuomo's arrest followed a request for legal cooperation from anti-Mafia magistrates in Italy. It is reported that while studying the request, the federal prosecutor's office uncovered evidence suggesting that Cuomo may have enjoyed a measure of protection from justice officials in Ticino.
Cuomo was officially resident in Ticino until 1996, and his tobacco import-export company is still based in Lugano.
swissinfo with agencies