May 4, 2018 / 9:15 AM / 17 days ago

Slovak prosecutor approves extradition of Italian businessman named by murdered reporter

BRATISLAVA (Reuters) - A Slovak prosecutor approved on Friday extradition of businessman Antonino Vadala - subject of the last report by a murdered Slovak journalist - to his home country Italy on a drugs charge.

Vadala was taken into custody in March on a European warrant issued by a Venice court that said Vadala was suspected of being part of a group dedicated to international drugs trafficking and money laundering that used apparently legal channels to import narcotics from South America.

Vadala will be handed over to Italian authorities within 10 days, a spokesman for a Slovak regional prosecutor’s office, Milan Filicko, said on Friday.

Slovak investigative reporter Jan Kuciak had reported on fraud cases, often involving politically connected businessmen before he was found shot dead at home with his fiancee in late February.

The murder has shaken Slovakia, prompting mass protests that forced the resignations of the prime minister, two interior ministers and a police chief.

His final article - unfinished but published posthumously - looked at Italian businessmen in Slovakia with suspected mafia links, including Vadala.

In an interview with Slovak news website Korzar on March 6, Vadala denied any wrongdoing. Reuters has been unable to speak to him while he has been in custody.

No one has been charged over the deaths, which the prosecutor overseeing the case said was likely a contract killing.

Vadala is also facing separate charges of agricultural subsidy fraud by Slovakia’s National Criminal Agency.

Reporting By Tatiana Jancarikova; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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