Mafia informer fights extradition charges fearing for her life, taken to hospital
An Italian mafia informer, arrested in Malta following a European Arrest Warrant, yesterday appealed extradition charges out of fear for her life should she be sent to an Italian prison.
Lawyer Malcolm Mifsud argued that there is a real risk of the woman being murdered due to her criminal connections, even inside an Italian prison. The basis of the appeal is that due to the extensive mafia networks in Italy, Donatella Concas fears that fellow prisoners could easily receive instructions to harm/kill her. The lawyer stated that there is little faith in the Italian authorities’ ability to offer protection.
Ms Concas was arrested in Malta a few days ago, after her name appeared on a Schengen Information System Alert. She had been convicted in Italy in 2015, where she was to serve a three-year, eight-month prison sentence. Following this judgment, Ms Concas disappeared for a year, fearing for her life after she testified against members of the mafia.
Ms Concas was convicted for participating in organised crime, usury, extortion and illegal possession of weapons. She reportedly formed part of the Camorra clan.
Dr Mifsud argued that there was a real risk of Mr Concas being murdered, and said that there was no objection to serving her prison sentence in Malta, or in another country besides Italy.
He added that Ms Concas is fully aware of what the mafia is capable of, and that their reach extends even into prisons.
In the Attorney General’s reply to Dr Mifsud’s original defence application against extradition, it said that it failed to understand how Ms Concas’ right to life would be breached in view of the fears stemming from a third party and not the Italian authorities.
Following Dr Mifsud’s arguments that Ms Concas had no faith in the Italian authorities’ ability to protect her from inside prison, he said that he hoped the court would be comforted by a constitutional judgment establishing that the request for extradition itself is a breach of her right to life.
AG lawyer Elaine Mercieca argued that the constitutional opposition was made too early and could not be used as grounds to prevent the extradition request.
She reminded the court that the extradition request had to be decided within one month and if the court were to refer the matter to the Constitutional Court, this period would not be able to be observed.
AG lawyers also argued that the request had been made too early because Ms Concas failed to exhaust all ordinary remedies. Dr Mercieca said that should the court decide to uphold the extradition request, she would still be able to attack the subsequent extradition order.
“If I were to decide to extradite her today,” the Magistrate Aaron Bugeja presiding over the case clarified, “the Italians are bound to imprison her only for the sentence she is being extradited for. Furthermore, there is a seven-day period between this court’s decision and the actual removal from the country. In that time, she would be able to file constitutional proceedings and it is in that sense that the AG is arguing that her request was too early.”
Magistrate Bugeja explained that on the basis of the defence’s argument, that the request for extradition is a breach of human rights itself, this court could not make such a judgment and it is for the Constitutional Court to decide.
The case was deferred following Ms Concas’ admission to hospital.
Prosecuting lawyers from the AG’s office were Nadia Attard, Mario Cuschieri and Elaine Mercieca.