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Italian businessman arrested in Slovakia

March 13, 2018

Slovak police have arrested an Italian businessman who had been named in the final investigative report by slain journalist Jan Kuciak. The reporter alleged the suspect had links to Slovak politicians and the Mafia.

Protesters in Slovakia hold a sign saying, 'Mafia get out of my country!'
Image: picture-alliance/AP/B. Engler

The Slovak general prosecutor's office said Tuesday it had detained Antonino Vadala in the eastern town of Michalovce over a drugs-related charge.

In a statement, the prosecutor's office said it had acted on a European arrest warrant issued by a court in Venice.

"The Italian court is demanding the extradition of Antonino V. for prosecution in Italy for a drug offense committed by an organized criminal group with a transnational scope."

Read moreSlovakia shaken to the core after 'mafia structures' revealed

Vadala was mentioned several times in an investigation by journalist Jan Kuciak, who was last month found shot dead at his Bratislava home with his fiancee, Martina Kusnirova. The 27-year-old's report, published unfinished days after his death, alleged high-level corruption and ties between the Mafia and businessmen operating in Slovakia.

The allegations

Vadala, who lives in eastern Slovakia and is the owner of several companies, was detained and released earlier this month along with six other Italians over the alleged crimes detailed in Kuciak's investigation. Kuciak alleged that Vadala had past business connections with two Slovaks who went on to work in the prime minister's office. Vadala denies the claims.

Read moreMafia ties and journalist's murder threaten to bring down government

Venice chief prosecutor Bruno Cherchi said in a statement Vadala was under investigation for being part of a group dedicated to "international drugs trafficking and money laundering" that used apparently legal channels to import drugs from South America.

Read more'Slovakia's systemic corruption is killing people'

Government collapse?

Kuciak's murder triggered mass protests across Slovakia and calls for the government of Prime Minister Robert Fico to step down.

Police have interviewed more than 100 people as part of the investigation into the killings, but no one has yet been charged.

Slovakia's opposition party on Tuesday requested a no-confidence vote against the government. The vote, to take place next week, could see the collapse of the three-party ruling coalition that came to power following 2016 elections.

nm/kms (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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