LONDON (Reuters) - A convicted Sicilian mafioso who spent two decades living incognito in Britain will be extradited to Italy after a court on Friday overturned a previous ruling that prison overcrowding there could breach his human rights.
Domenico Rancadore, 65, faces seven years in jail in Italy after senior district judge Howard Riddle ruled in favor of extradition at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
Rancadore, a former teacher nicknamed “U Profissuri” (The Professor) in Sicilian dialect, had been arguing since his arrest that conditions in Italian prisons were so bad that they would breach his human rights.
But Riddle said in his judgment: “I am satisfied your ... rights will not be breached by your extradition to Italy.”
Rancadore, wearing a grey suit and striped tie, shook his head slowly and looked down as the judgment was delivered while his wife sobbed in the public gallery.
Rancadore had left Italy with his British wife and two children in 1993 and established a new life under the name “Marc Skinner” in a modest house in Uxbridge, west London.
He was sentenced in his absence in Italy for his membership of Sicily’s Cosa Nostra from 1987 to 1995, and is on Italy’s list of most wanted criminals.
He was discovered and arrested in August 2013 and faced an extradition hearing in March 2014, but a previous ruling by Britain’s High Court that overcrowding in Italian prisons could be a breach of his human rights meant that he could not be extradited.
At the time, Italy held around 62,000 prisoners in jails built for fewer than 48,000, according to official data. It has since reduced the number of inmates.
Rancadore, who suffers from a heart condition, was arrested again in April last year on a European Arrest Warrant issued by Italy, and released on bail pending Friday’s hearing. His bail conditions were renewed after the latest judgment.
Rancadore, is the son of Giuseppe Rancadore, former head of the mafia clan in Trabia near Palermo, Sicily’s capital, who is serving a life sentence in jail.
He cut all ties with his Italian family and took his mother-in-law’s maiden name as his surname when he arrived in Britain. The family home was in his wife’s name and he had no passport, national insurance number or work records.
British police have not said how they caught up with Rancadore. His daughter told the court in the 2014 hearing that she believed an ex-boyfriend had told them who he was.
Editing by Stephen Addison