Cape Town - Vito Palazzolo is this week set to be extradited from Thailand to Italy, where he is expected to serve jail time after being sentenced there to nine years’ imprisonment in absentia, says his son.
His extradition is to take place a year after he appealed against an initial extradition order and after protracted court proceedings that have seen him imprisoned in Thailand for 21 months.
In 2009, Palazzolo was sentenced by an Italian court for having an association with the Mafia. On Wednesday, Palazzolo’s son, Christian von Palace, confirmed to the Cape Times that his father would be sent to Italy this week.
“He obviously isn’t happy about it,” he said, referring to his father. Palazzolo, a naturalised South African citizen once based in the Western Cape, was arrested on March 30 last year on an Interpol red notice - one of Interpol’s tools for tracking international fugitives - on his way back to SA.
He has been detained in Bangkok’s immigration detention centre since then.
A year ago, a Thai court had ruled that Palazzolo had to return to Italy, but he had appealed against this.
On Wednesday, Von Palace said his father had unexpectedly appeared in a Thai court on Friday where the appeal judgment was heard.
“The judgment said he must go back (to Italy),” Von Palace said.
A number of online Italian publications had quoted Leonardo Agueci, the deputy chief prosecutor in Palermo in Sicily, as talking about the extradition and saying: “It has been a very long procedure.”
Von Palace said once in Italy, his father was expected to serve the nine-year prison term that had been handed down in absentia, but the 21 months he had already spent detained in Thailand would likely be deducted from this.
He said “no one” in his family felt positive about the judgment and for the second consecutive year, their festive season had been marred by extradition matters.
Von Palace said his family was considering what to do about the extradition ruling and the jail time his father was expected to serve, as they believed there were irregularities in the case which lead to Palazzolo being sentenced in absentia.
Last year, when Palazzolo’s initial extradition had been announced in Italy, images of him appearing gaunt, compared to before his arrest, had emerged.
Earlier this year, Von Palace had attributed this weight loss to the food Palazzolo was being given in prison.
He had said his father was being treated as well as could be expected in a prison, but often suffered from colds and flu.
Von Palace, who had frequently visited his father in prison, had said visits from the family had helped Palazzolo cope.