Russian's escape exposes Italian judicial negligence
April 17, 2023
Luca Mazzacane
(Pavia, Italy)
Edoardo Tagliati
(Siena, Italy)

Artem Uss has managed to flee Italy for Russia. According to the Italian Authorities, at 2:07 pm on March 22, Uss left his house in Italy, broke his electronic bracelet, reached the Slovenian border by hopping on several cars, then arriving in Serbia, and finally landing in  Russia. The Russian businessman had been under house arrest in Italy awaiting extradition to the US, in compliance with an international arrest warrant. 

The event has gained international attention and has exposed the Italian procedural negligence in judicial cases. The escape of Uss has generated quite a political turmoil within and around the Italian government team. As spoken recently by Giorgia Meloni, during her visit to Addis-Ababa:  

“[The case] is quite serious, I reserve the right, when I come back, to talk about it with Minister Nordio (Justice) to see how things went. Certainly there are anomalies. The main one, I'm sorry, seems to me to be that of the appellate decision to offer house arrest on questionable grounds, and to maintain that decision even while there was an initiative on extradition and so the risk of flight was more obvious. There needs to be clarity on the case."

The opposition, such as Partito Democratico and +Europa called the government to account for Uss’ escape, as Italy's international credibility depends on it. The case is now a parliamentary issue and has been brought also to the ears of Giorgia Meloni and the Parliamentary Committee on the Security of the Republic (i.e., the Italian intelligence).

Justice Minister Nordio, following Meloni 's request, has now opened an investigation. He is now aiming at verifying the decision by the judicial authority for house arrest. The Court of Appeals has already drafted a report explaining that the Russian was checked twice a day by the police. More importantly, the Court noted that it has no responsibility in the house arrest decision, as the Court could not act unilaterally. So the Court is assigning responsibility to the Prosecutor General's Office and the Ministers, who have power to change judicial measures.

The final result is an ongoing domestic clash between Meloni's government and the Court of Appeals judges (second level of government), in addition to a deep embarrassment with Washington. Meanwhile, as the Italian government and the Court go back and forth on the issue, there will be no chance of seeing Uss in the hands of US justice, which will in the future likely call into question the capability of Washington's Italian ally.

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