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VITO PALAZZOLO has been held in a Thai detention facility for two months now – and it is still not clear what will happen to him.
“My father is still in jail and still sleeping on the floor. There’s nothing new,” Christian von Palace, Palazzolo’s son, told the Cape Times yesterday in a telephone interview.
Palazzolo, 64, a South African citizen who was based in the Western Cape at one point, is wanted in Italy where he faces a nine-year prison sentence for Mafia- type associations.
He was arrested at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok on March 30 on an Interpol red notice – one of Interpol’s tools for tracking international fugitives.
Thai authorities also cancelled his visa and therefore kept him in custody as cancelling his visa meant he became “a person who must be deported”.
Yesterday Von Palace said that he was not sure what would happen to his father. “It’s a very sad story,” he said.
There was a possibility Palazzolo could be extradited to Italy, but Von Palace said for this to happen a court case would first have to take place in Thailand.
“But there’s no court date. There’s nothing,” he said.
In an affidavit handed in to the Western Cape High Court in April, Von Palace said his father was being detained in a cell with 13 other inmates and had to sleep on the floor.
He also said in the affidavit that Palazzolo had prostate cancer, which was in remission, and a heart condition for which he required daily medication.
Von Palace said that his father was being detained in conditions dangerous to his health.
Von Palace said yesterday he felt the South African government could do more to assist his father.
Department of International Relations and Co-operation spokesman Clayson Monyela said it was unable to speed up any actions Palazzolo could face or proceedings he would have to go through as this was controlled by the Thai government. “Our responsibility is to render consular services. We are doing that,” he said.
Asked whether he had heard if Palazzolo would be extradited to Italy, Monyela said: “We’re also waiting like he is.”
In April, following his arrest, Palazzolo’s local attorneys launched an urgent application in the Western Cape High Court. The court then directed the International Relations and Co-operation Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, “to consider and respond” to Palazzolo’s request that the government communicate directly with the Thai government on his behalf. It also said it must let Palazzolo know if it was willing to advise the Thai government that he is a South African citizen with a valid South African passport.