Convicted robber 'can't be extradited or her firm will go bust'
A SCOTTISH businesswoman who is wanted by the Italian government should not be extradited because the company that she set up would not survive without her, a court heard yesterday.
Dorothy Fasola, 57, is wanted in Italy to serve sentences for armed robbery and counterfeiting charges, Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard.
She could face seven years behind bars after being sentenced on three separate occasions - twice in her absence - by a court in Milan.
Lawyers fighting the extradition yesterday argued that jobs at the Peterhead-based seafood firm would be lost and the local economy would lose out if she were sent overseas.
"This business cannot survive Mrs Fasola's extradition," defence counsel Mungo Bovey, QC, said.
He told Sheriff Douglas Allan that Fasola started a company in 2001, exporting fish to Italy.
The business previously enjoyed an annual turnover of more than 1.8 million, and it employs a handful of people, the court heard.
Mr Bovey argued that the business would stop trading if his client were required to go to Italy.
"From 2001 to 2006, Mrs Fasola has, in Peterhead, which is not the easiest place to start a business, started a very significant and successful business and had a number of members of staff," he said. "Everyone would lose their job."
The claims emerged as the latest phase of Fasola's extradition case was held.
The court heard the businesswoman is alleged by the Italians to be "unlawfully at large" after her convictions.
David Dickson, for the Crown, previously said three European arrest warrants were issued for Fasola, in respect of the three convictions, in 2006.
He told the court earlier that she was given a four-year sentence nine years ago for armed robbery. She was also convicted twice - in 1995 and 2001 - of counterfeiting currency, he said.
On the first occasion, she was sentenced to four years in prison, and has still to serve two years and five months of that jail term. She was also ordered to spend four years behind bars for the 2001 conviction.
The court heard earlier that officials in Italy say she must now spend a total of seven years and seven months behind bars, after new rules were introduced.
Further contesting the extradition bid, Mr Bovey argued that time has passed since the offences she was convicted of in Italy.
One arrest warrant related to an offence in 1991. "It is essential for your lordship to take into account that this European arrest warrant issued in April 2006 was, in fact, being issued in relation to an offence that had taken place some 15 years before," he told the sheriff.
Another warrant related to offences in 1988 and 1989, he said.
Countering the defence's arguments yesterday, Mr Dickson claimed it was Fasola who was responsible for the length of time which had passed. "She actively fled the jurisdiction to avoid a period of imprisonment," he said.
"Responsibility for any passage of time rests with her."
Mr Dickson also told the sheriff: "What your lordship is being asked to do by the Italian authorities is to return her to serve a sentence.
"She has been judged guilty, she has exhausted her domestic appeal, as far as it relates to conviction, and the orders for enforcement of sentence have been issued."
The case, which had been expected to continue all afternoon, was adjourned after new documents came to light.
Defence lawyers asked for more time to consider the paperwork.
The next hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court will be on 27 April.
How the process works
EXTRADITION from Scotland requires decisions by both the courts and Scottish ministers.
The sheriff must be satisfied that the request meets the requirements of the Extradition Act.
If he rules in favour of the request, he must then refer the case to ministers, who have two months to make a decision on whether the person should be extradited. Otherwise, the person in question must be discharged.
The highest-profile extradition case between Scotland and Italy recently involved Antonio La Torre, a Mafia boss.
Nicknamed the "Don on the Don", the 50-year-old restaurateur was convicted in his absence in 2004 of racketeering and extortion. The father of three, who moved to Aberdeen in 1986, was sentenced to 13 years.
An extradition hearing was later told that La Torre was "the undisputed head of a criminal organisation".
In October, the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh rejected La Torre's bid to avoid extradition.
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