Giovanni Strangio, an Italian-born top suspect in a 2007 mafia shootout in Germany, is to be extradited to Italy, not Germany, a Dutch court ruled on Wednesday.
Strangio has been top of the most-wanted lists both in Germany and in Italy
Judge Fred Salomon said Strangio, who was arrested in March in the Netherlands, would be handed over to Italian authorities because Italy's claim to the suspect was stronger than Germany's.
"The Italian (extradition) request enjoys priority," Salomon said as he handed down the ruling in an Amsterdam court.
Strangio, 30, is an alleged leading member of the notorious southern Italian mafia 'ndrangheta and one of the most wanted people in Germany and Italy.
The six victims in the Duisburg mafia killings were shot in their cars
He is suspected of being the ringleader of a shootout that left six rival clan members dead outside a pizzeria in Duisburg, western Germany, in August 2007.
Germany still wants Strangio
Public prosecutors in Duisburg had been trying to get Strangio extradited to Germany to try him in a local court. But in recent weeks, it was widely expected that the Dutch court would rule in favor of Italy.
Prosecutors in Duisburg have agreed that Strangio should be taken first to Italy, spokesman Detlef Nowotsch said.
"We are stepping back for the time being," Nowotsch said. "But that doesn't mean that we don't want Strangio," he added.
Italy's case for Strangio stronger, judge says
On Wednesday, Salomon said Italy's reasons for wanting to try Strangio on home soil were more compelling than Germany's.
The judge said the German killings had been the result of clashes between rival clans in the Italian town of San Luca. "Therefore the relation with Italy is bigger than the relation with Duisburg where the crime took place," Salomon said.
The judge also pointed out that Italy was seeking to prosecute Strangio not only for the 2007 killings, but also for membership of a criminal organization.
"Furthermore, all the victims had Italian nationality," he said.
Strangio is to be transferred to Italian custody from his Dutch prison in the next 10 days.
Killings draw attention to 'ndrangheta mafia
The execution-style shootings in Duisburg, which grabbed headlines in Germany, stemmed from a feud between two rival clans. The bloody crime drew international attention to the 'ndrangheta, a crime syndicate based in the southern Italian region of Calabria.
Witnesses said they saw two attackers fire about 70 bullets at the six victims, aged 16 to 39, as they were sitting in their cars after leaving the Da Bruno restaurant in the industrial city.
The killings outside the Da Bruno restaurant in Duisburg sent shockwaves through Germany
The Duisburg hit was believed to have been revenge for the 2006 Christmas-time killing of Maria Strangio, a cousin of Giovanni Strangio and the wife of the head of the Nirta-Strangio clan, Giovanni Nirta, and the wounding of her son.
The battle between the rival clans has left 16 people dead since 1991.
In March, an Italian court jailed 31 people for the Duisburg massacre, one of them for 13 years.
Italy's Eurispes social studies institute has estimated 'Ndrangheta's turnover from trafficking in drugs and arms, prostitution and extortion in 2007 at 44 billion euros ($65 billion).
Strangio was arrested in March in the Dutch town of Diemen, after a lengthy probe involving telephone wire tapping, surveillance and close coordination between Dutch, German and Italian police.