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Bail given to four men Italy wants extradited

The Italian authorities have requested the extradition of four Maltese businessmen over the discovery of some 18,000kg of contraband cigarettes.

The men, who cannot be named by court order after the prosecution said investigations were ongoing, face a maximum of eight years in prison and a fine of €230 million.

Police Inspector Ian Abdilla told Magistrate Ian Farrugia that the fine was so high because, under Italian law, the accused would be fined per gram of the smuggled substance.

He said investigations were conducted in a number of countries and the Italian authorities started making arrests yesterday morning.

Clients’ lives could not be placed on hold just by snapping one’s fingers

Lawyers Joe Giglio and Franco Debono, for the wanted men, said that the European arrest warrants for their clients were issued in July and according to Italian procedure a prosecutor was empowered to order a person’s arrest.

In pleas on bail, Dr Giglio argued that their clients’ lives could not be placed on hold just by snapping one’s fingers, noting that, so far, the Italian police had not instituted court proceedings against them and neither were they convicted.

They should not be remanded in custody because they were businessmen, employed people, all had ties with Malta and they needed to make the necessary arrangements to defend themselves in Italy.

Objecting to bail, the prosecuting officer argued that this was a very serious case with investigations being Europe-wide.

The magistrate granted the wanted men bail against a deposit of €10,000 each and a personal guarantee of €40,000 each, warning them of the consequences of breaching bail conditions.

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