December 22, 2007 / 3:03 AM / 10 years ago

Canada court clears extradition of Italian mobster

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s highest court refused on Thursday to hear the appeal of a Mafia fugitive fighting extradition to Italy, where he was convicted in absentia a decade ago on drug charges.

Alfonso Caruana, whom Canadian police once called a superstar of organized crime, is alleged to be the senior member of a crime family that operated in 13 countries. He was living in the Toronto area until his arrest by Canadian police in 1998.

The Supreme Court of Canada rejected without comment Caruana’s request to appeal a lower court’s recommendation that he should be extradited.

An Italian court convicted the Sicilian-born Caruana of involvement in an international drug and money-laundering conspiracy, and he was sentenced in 1998 to 21 years in prison.

Caruana did not attend the Italian trial, and he argued before Canadian courts that it would be unfair to send him to a country in which he was convicted in absentia.

Caruana was arrested by Canadian police 1998 on drug-trafficking charges and was sentenced 18 years in prison after pleading guilty. He was serving that sentence in a Canadian prison when Italy requested his extradition in 2003.

Reporting by Randall Palmer and Allan Dowd; Editing by Peter Galloway

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