Italy’s Meloni admits “anomalies” in Russian escape

ROME (AP) – Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni acknowledged “anomalies” in dealings with a Russian businessman who fled house arrest in Italy to avoid extradition to the United States, saying on Saturday she would deal with the Ministers of Justice speak to understand what happened.

During a visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Meloni called Artyom Uss’ case a “grave” and promised to get to the bottom of it when she returned to Rome.

Uss, the 40-year-old son of a Russian regional governor, was arrested at Milan Malpensa Airport in October 2022 on a US warrant accusing him of violating sanctions. In November, a ruling by a Milan appeals court saw him transferred from prison to house arrest and fitted with an electronic surveillance bracelet.

He fled Italy on March 22, a day after a Milan court ruled the US extradition request legitimate, and turned up in Russia earlier this month.

“Certainly there are anomalies,” Meloni told reporters in Ethiopia. “Unfortunately, the main anomaly is the Court of Appeal’s decision to offer him house arrest on frankly questionable grounds and then uphold that decision even after there was an extradition request. Because in this case, the risk of absconding becomes more obvious.”

Political cartoons about world leaders

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She welcomed Italian Attorney General Carlo Nordio’s decision to launch a disciplinary inquiry, saying “we need clarity.” But she also said Italy had no detailed intelligence information from the US Department of Justice “about the nature of the person.”

Italian daily La Repubblica reported on Saturday that US authorities made it clear in two notes to Nordio’s office that the Russian posed a “very high risk of absconding” — one dated October 19, two days after Uss’ arrest, and the other who sent after him was granted house arrest on November 25.

The US demanded that Uss remain detained pending extradition proceedings and cited six cases in the past three years in which suspects had escaped from house arrest in Italy while extradition requests were pending, Repubblica quoted the notes as saying.

The newspaper said Nordio had assured the US in a Dec. 6 memo that the electronic surveillance bracelet put on USS and its required periodic checks with the police were sufficient. Repubblica quoted the Milan court’s response to Nordio’s investigation as saying the justice minister has the power at any time to impose stricter restrictive measures on someone in the extradition process.

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