Senior Sicilian mafia member denied bail in London court
LONDON (Reuters) - A Sicilian mafioso arrested after living in Britain quietly under an assumed name for 20 years was denied bail for a second time on Thursday by a London court, as Italian authorities seek his extradition to serve a jail term.
Domenico Rancadore, known to his neighbors in the London suburb of Uxbridge as Marc Skinner, has been described by the Italian Interior Ministry as a leading member of the Cosa Nostra and accused of mafia association, extortion and other serious crimes.
Rancadore, 64, was first arrested at his London home on an Italian warrant on Aug 8. After concerns were raised about the warrant, Italy later issued a new one and he was re-arrested on court premises and denied bail.
Nicknamed "u profissuri" (the professor) in Sicilian dialect, he is the son of Giuseppe Rancadore, former boss of a Mafia clan in Trabia near Palermo, who is serving a life sentence in jail.
Dressed in a navy blue and red-striped rugby shirt, the tanned, grey-haired Rancadore sat in the dock on Thursday clutching what appeared to be a white copy of the Bible.
He shook his head and made frequent eye contact with his British wife Anne, who sat in the public gallery of Westminster Magistrates' court.
Defense lawyer Alun Jones said the family's suburban semi-detached home, estimated to be worth between 360,000 and 370,000 pounds ($570-580,000), was being offered as a surety for bail, in addition to 10,000 pounds.
He argued Rancadore would not abscond, saying he suffered from angina and reflux, underwent a heart procedure in December, and was only sleeping two hours a night.
But Judge Quentin Purdy told Rancadore: "It seems to me clear that if you are released on bail there is a risk you will disappear. Your family has every reason to support you in that course of action."
The prosecution has said Rancadore was considered "a man of honor" in Cosa Nostra, a group that "spread terror in Sicily". He was said to be in charge of a territory around Trabia and had ensured strict compliance with the organization's rules in the area.
The father of two came to Britain in 1993, where he used his wife's family name, Skinner. He was later tried in his absence in Italy and sentenced to seven years in prison over Mafia activities from 1987 to 1995.
Rancadore had a female interpreter by his side. Purdy said he would appear before the same court via video link on September 20. ($1 = 0.6374 British pounds)
(Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; editing by Andrew Roche)
Thousands line up to say goodbye to Nelson Mandela, whose body is lying in state in Pretoria. Slideshow