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Sunday, 13 March 2011

FORMER Stirling mayor Tony Vallelonga faces up to 14 years in jail if charged, extradited and convicted over allegations that he is linked to the Italian mafia.

07:15 |

FORMER Stirling mayor Tony Vallelonga faces up to 14 years in jail if charged, extradited and convicted over allegations that he is linked to the Italian mafia.

Italian authorities have indicated they want to charge Mr Vallelonga under the section of their penal code dealing specifically with the mafia, which carries penalties of up to 14 years for leading or organising a mafia group, and up to 12 years for being part of such an association.

This follows the Italian authorities' explosive allegations this week that Mr Vallelonga was involved with the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta organised crime gang, first revealed on The Sunday Times news website PerthNow.

On Friday Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi threw her support behind Mr Vallelonga. "The Tony Vallelonga that I know certainly is a morally upstanding Perth citizen who has shown great support and worked for the community while he was mayor and as a leader of our community," she said.

A spokeswoman for Police Minister Rob Johnson, who is cited as a referee on Mr Vallelonga's curriculum vitae, said the minister had "observed (him) to be highly respected by the Italian community".

Lawyers acting for Mr Vallelonga who has denied any links with criminal organisations would not comment on potential penalties.

It is understood his legal team will write to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and the Australian Federal Police this week, asking that Mr Vallelonga not be taken into custody if the case escalates.

No official action has been taken against Mr Vallelonga, 64, who was Stirling mayor from 1997 to 2005, and who migrated to WA from the southern Italian province of Calabria in 1963.

But earlier this week Italian anti-mafia prosecutor Nicola Gratteri told media that "in a few days" a request for Mr Vallelonga's extradition would go to the Australian Embassy and an Australian court and judge.

The Italian authorities' case involves claims that Mr Vallelonga conversed with alleged crime boss Giuseppe Commisso in Calabria in August 2009.

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