CHIANGRAI TIMES – Controversial Italian resident in South Africa, Vito Palazzolo, appeared in a Bangkok court in Thailand in connection with his extradition trial on Thursday.
His lawyer, Norman Snitcher, told the Cape Argus that the court decided Palazzolo could not be deported yet and would remain in custody.
It is understood that Thailand does not have an extradition treaty with Italy, but both countries have promised to work together to extradite Palazzolo. He was on Interpol’s most wanted list.
Snitcher said the South African embassy in Thailand had not provided the consular services to Palazzolo he was entitled to as a South African citizen.
But International Relations spokesman, Clayson Monyela, denied this and said the SA embassy had been in touch with Palazzolo.
He said the embassy was “taking care of what needs to be done”, but declined to say what this was.
Palazzolo, 64, was stopped by the Royal Thai police on March 30 at Bangkok airport.
He was sentenced by a court in Italy in 2006 to nine years in jail for criminal association as a prominent member of the Cosa Nostra Sicilian mafia for whom he had been accused of laundering money.
Hawks spokesman, McIntosh Polela, confirmed Palazzolo was being investigated for money laundering.
Last week, Home Affairs director-general Mkhuseli Apleni said investigations were under way to determine how Palazzolo acquired a passport under the name of Robert Palace Kolbatschenko.
The department was also investigating how Palazzolo was granted citizenship by the government in 1986.
Snitcher said Thai police intended to deport his client to Italy, possibly because misinformation from the SA government implied that South Africa had “washed its hands” of Palazzolo.
He said there was “every reason to believe the SA government’s perverse posture was part and parcel of an unlawful scheme to facilitate (Palazzolo’s) summary deportation to Italy”.
By Sibusiso Nkomo