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LONDON – A convicted Mafia boss returned to his comfortable home in west London on Monday after a judge ruled that overcrowding in Italian prisons could violate his rights.
The decision, which Italy is likely to appeal, is a triumph for Domenico Rancadore, a 65-year-old who lived a quiet life under the name Mark Skinner for almost 20 years until he was arrested on a European warrant in August.
Italian officials said he had been a chief of the feared Sicilian Mafia and he was convicted in his absence for criminal associations between 1987 and 1995. Rancadore took his wife's surname and they moved to London with their two children in 1994 — before he was facing charges.
"He made a deliberate decision 20 years ago to walk away from the Mafia and all that is associated with it," said Rancadore's lawyer, Karen Todner, praising the decision. "He has led a blame-free existence in the United Kingdom where he has resided peacefully with his wife and family."
Rancadore and his wife both had their heads fully covered as they left the courthouse and headed home Monday.
Judge Howard Riddle agreed that there were valid grounds for extradition, but the judge cited a recent higher court ruling that refused extradition of another man because of concerns about overcrowding at Italian prisons.
"The judgment of the administrative court is binding on me," he said Monday.
The judge said Rancadore had been almost impossible to trace because he lacked identity documents, did not keep his house in his own name and had no passport or work records.
Rancadore is expected to be freed on bail but required to report to a local police station daily.