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Mafia boss 'led murderous gang'

A fugitive Mafia boss caught hiding in suburbia was a leader in a murderous gang that "spread terror in Sicily", a court has heard.

Domenico Rancadore, 64, was denied bail at Westminster Magistrates' Court on the grounds that he has evaded capture since coming to the UK 20 years ago by living under a false name.

He is wanted in Italy to serve a seven-year jail term for his role as "a man of honour" in mafia group Cosa Nostra, collecting bribes from builders in Trabia near Palermo.

Prosecutor Benjamin Seifert said: "The information says that Mr Rancadore was one of the heads of an armed criminal organisation known as Cosa Nostra which is said to be one of the most powerful Mafia organisations in Italy, made up of thousands of members spreading terror in Sicily by imposing its rules and controlling the area and systematically murdering anybody who did not comply with the will of the members of the organisation."

Concerns were raised on Thursday over the validity of the warrant for the former teacher's arrest, but a new warrant was issued on Friday and Rancadore was re-arrested in the cells.

His travel agent wife Anne Skinner stood at the back of the court with their daughter Daniela, holding her arm throughout the hearing. Daniela blew a kiss to her father as he was taken down to the cells after being remanded in custody until August 22, when he will appear again at the same court.

District Judge Quentin Purdy told him: "It seems to be very clear on the information before me that you have actively evaded apprehension for a significant period of time."

Rancadore was convicted of Mafia links in Italy in his absence after he had come to live in the UK with his family in 1993.

Italian prosecutors claim that he received around £3,500 in bribe money, and Mr Seifert said he had "ensured strict compliance with the rules of the organisation". He was found guilty of being part of the gang between December 1987 and April 1995.

Despite offering a surety of £10,000 and the assurance that he would be placed under "constant scrutiny" by police if released, Rancadore's application for bail was denied.

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