Italian PM Meloni acknowledges 'anomalies' in Russian escape

Italy is investigating how a Russian businessman escaped from house arrest to avoid extradition to US on sanctions-breaking charges

By AP

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Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, centre, waits to start her briefing to COPASIR parliamentary intelligence commission in Rome on Thursday. — AP file
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, centre, waits to start her briefing to COPASIR parliamentary intelligence commission in Rome on Thursday. — AP file

Published: Sat 15 Apr 2023, 8:06 PM

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni acknowledged “anomalies” in the handling of a Russian businessman who escaped from house arrest in Italy to avoid extradition to the United States and said on Saturday she would speak with the justice minister to understand what happened.

During a visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Meloni termed the case of Artyom Uss “grave” and vowed to get to the bottom of it when she returned to Rome.

Uss, the 40-year-old son of a Russian regional governor, was detained in October 2022 at Milan Malpensa Airport on a US warrant accusing him of violating sanctions. In November, a ruling from a Milan appeals court resulted in him being moved from jail to house arrest and outfitted with an electronic monitoring bracelet.

He escaped from Italy on March 22, a day after a Milan court recognised as legitimate the US extradition request, and surfaced in Russia earlier this month.

“For sure there are anomalies,” Meloni told reporters in Ethiopia. “The principal anomaly, I’m sorry to say, is the decision of the appeals court to offer him house arrest with a frankly debatable motivation, and to then maintain that decision even after there was an extradition request. Because obviously in that case, the flight risk becomes more obvious.”

She welcomed the decision by Italian Justice Minister Carlo Nordio to undertake a disciplinary investigation, saying “we have to have clarity.” But she also said Italy didn’t have detailed intelligence information from the US Justice Department “about the nature of the person.”

Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica reported Saturday that US authorities made clear that the Russian presented a “very high flight risk” in two notes to Nordio’s office — one from October 19, two days after Uss’ arrest, and the other sent after he was granted house arrest on November 25.


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