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Kinahan gang ally Raffaele Imperiale claims extradition from Dubai to Italy was ‘kidnapping’

The Carmorra-linked Italian mobster who is a former part of a so-called ‘super-cartel’ along with the Kinahan cartel, the Dutch-Moroccan Mocro Mafia led by Ridouan Taghi, and the Balkan-based Tito and Dino cartel was extradited to Italy in March to face organised crime charges.

Several members of the supercartel who had thought they were safe from prosecution while based in the United Arab Emirates have been extradited to various countries to face charges in recent years.

Imperiale, who is a close associate of Daniel Kinahan, was arrested last year at his luxurious desert bolt-hole in Dubai and was finally flown to Rome in March to face charges.

Ranked number two on Italy’s most wanted fugitive list, Imperiale was arrested last August as he basked with his family by a swimming pool at his luxury villa.

It emerged this week that lawyers for Imperiale tried to argue his extradition was a kidnapping which violated the European Convention on Human Rights.

They filed an appeal to request the cancellation of his detention, issued by the preliminary investigation judge at the request of the Antimafia Investigation Directorate.

Italian news outlet Metropolis reported that Imperiale’s lawyer, Fausto Brizzi, argued that he had effectively been kidnapped.

He said: “Imperiale lived in the United Arab Emirates, and the request for extradition to Italy was rejected by the Emirate court”.

After that court ruling, the Italian justice minister flew to UAE in February to request Imperiale’s extradition.

“Suddenly, on March 25, 2022, Imperiale was loaded on a plane and taken to Italy, where the report of the execution of the measure was drawn up in Ciampino [Rome] Airport”, he claimed.

The lawyer said the way the transfer occurred “violates the treaty between Italy and the United Arab Emirates the territorial sovereignty of the United Arab Emirates and the European Convention on Human Rights”,

“’Imperiale was the subject of a seizure in person [kidnapping]”.

An Italian court said there was no grounds to bring a direct appeal to the Supreme Court.

He is now expected to remain behind bars until his trial on organised crime offences. Italian authorities allege Imperiale was a top figure with the Amato-Pagano clan, a Camorra clan from Naples, and sourced drugs and weapons for the gang for over a decade.

He also forged wider international connections with Taghi and other super-cartel figures.

The super-cartel, most of whom were based in the United Arab Emirates, pooled their resources to arrange large drug shipments from South America into Europe.

Another cartel associate serving life in prison in the Netherlands for directing murders has been moved to a lighter prison regime sparking fears he will be able to direct criminal activities.

Naoufal Fassih (36), a Dutch national of Moroccan origin, was arrested during a raid on a Kinahan-linked safe-house on Baggot St, Dublin, in 2016 and extradited to the Netherlands where he was jailed for various offences including two murders.

He is a key associate of gang boss and fellow Kinahan associate Ridouan Taghi, who is currently on trial for organised offences.

Despite being held in a high-security prison Taghi was able to communicate with criminal associates on the outside and even planned a violent prison escape.

Fassih is one of Taghi’s closest associates, and questions have been raised as to why he has been moved to lighter prison regimes.

After he was arrested in Dublin he was extradited to the Netherlands where he was initially held in the Extra Secure Institution (EBI), which is the highest security facility in the Netherlands.

He was subsequently transferred to the Intensive Supervision Department (AIT) of Leeuwarden prison where inmates remain under strict supervision but not to the level of the Extra Secure Institution.

Dutch MP Ulysse Ellian said the lighter security makes it easier for Fassih to plan attacks or direct other criminal activities.

Dutch media outlet Het Parool reported that the politician has written to Minister Franc Weerwind of Legal Protection, who is responsible for prisons, to raise concerns about the matter.

“Why is Naoufal F. no longer in the AIT, or has he been placed in the ‘extreme’ category?” Ellian asked. “Why are detainees who have or had a leadership role within a criminal partnership not at least in an Intensive Surveillance Department?”

He said he feared that in a relatively light regime Fassih “may have frequent contact” with fellow inmates.

“What are you going to do to ensure that leaders from criminal organisations, such as that of Ridouan Taghi, are under full supervision during detention and continued criminal action from detention is under no circumstances possible?”

Dutch authorities said they uncovered a plot by Taghi to break out of prison. They allege he was able to get messages to associates through his cousin and lawyer Youssef Taghi from March 2021 to October 2021.

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