A Thai court on Thursday ordered the extradition of an Italian banker convicted of laundering drug money through New York pizzerias in the 1970s and ’80s, known as the “Pizza Connection”.
Vito Roberto Palazzolo, 65, was arrested earlier this year at a Bangkok airport after Italian authorities tracked him down. Palazzolo was about to board the flight to South Africa where he had been living under the name Robert von Palace Kolbatschenko, reports the AP.
He was sentenced to nine years in prison by an Italian court in 2009 for his role in a $1.6 billion heroin and cocaine smuggling operation by the Cosa Nostra Sicilian mafia, according to Interpol. He has denied the charge through his website.
“The judge ruled that Palazzolo should be extradited,” an official at the Bangkok Criminal Court said.
Under Thai law, Palazzolo can file an appeal within 30 days, but his lawyer in Italy said he was unlikely to oppose the ruling. “Palazzolo does not intend to appeal and his return to Italy will probably be voluntary,” Baldassare Lauria said.
“I’m very happy to go back home,” Palazzolo said to reporters.