Top Italian mafia suspect to be extradited to Italy

14th May 2009, Comments 0 comments

A Dutch court has ordered Italian-born top suspect to be extradited to Italy over Germany as he will be prosecuted for membership of a criminal organisation in addition to the 2007 killings in Germany.

Amsterdam – A Dutch court ordered Wednesday the extradition to Italy of the Italian-born top suspect in a 2007 mafia massacre in Germany.

"Extradition to Italy is granted," judge Fred Salomon said in the district court in Amsterdam, dismissing a similar request by Germany.

Giovanni Strangio, 30, was arrested in March in the town of Diemen, east of the Dutch capital, where he had been lying low in a modest block of flats.

An alleged top member of the 'Ndrangheta mafia grouping, he is suspected of having led a shootout that left six rival clan members dead outside a pizzeria in Duisburg, western Germany, in August 2007.

Strangio was one of the most wanted people in Germany and Italy.

Salomon ruled Wednesday that Italy's claim to Strangio was stronger than that of Germany.

The German killings had been the result of clashes between rival clans in the Italian town of San Luca, "and therefore the relation with Italy is bigger than the relation with the place where the crime took place," said the judge.

Also, Italy was seeking to prosecute Strangio not only for the 2007 killings, but also for membership of a criminal organisation.

"Furthermore, all the victims had Italian nationality," said Salomon.

"The Italian (extradition) request enjoys priority."

Strangio would be transferred to Italian custody from his Dutch prison in the next 10 days.

The bodies of six clan members, aged between 16 and 39, were found in the boots of two cars near the Da Bruno restaurant in Duisburg on 15 August 2007. The execution-style killings threw an international spotlight on a long-running vendetta between the Nirta-Strangio and Pelle-Vottari clans of the 'Ndrangheta mafia, one of four operating in Italy.

The battle has left 16 people dead since 1991. Investigators point to a cycle of reprisals following the murder on 25 December 2006 of Maria Strangio, clan leader Giovanni Nirta's wife.

In March, an Italian court jailed 31 people for the Duisburg massacre, one of them for 13 years.

Italy's Eurispes social studies institute has estimated 'Ndrangheta's turnover from trafficking in drugs and arms, prostitution and extortion in 2007 at EUR 44 billion, the equivalent of 2.9 percent of Italy's gross domestic product.

At the time of his arrest, Dutch officials said Strangio had paid for everything in cash to avoid being traced while living in Diemen, went out rarely, and then only in disguise.

Police found a firearm and ammunition at the house where he had been living with his wife and child.

Investigators also found fake identity documents and equipment with which to produce more, as well as "a huge amount of cash".

Strangio, who had opposed his extradition to Italy but not to Germany, was not present for Wednesday's judgment, nor were his lawyers.

He has been described by his arresting officers as slender, of average height, with dark hair and blue eyes.

AFP / Expatica

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