Mafia informer fights ex­tra­di­tion charges fear­ing for her life, taken to hos­pi­tal

Malta Independent - - NEWS - He­lena Grech

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.

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