The South Africans in Palermo


Despite the conclusion of the criminal proceedings brought against Palazzolo – which closed as indicated with the plea bargain arrangement between the Attorney General and Palazzolo – the South African Authorities continued to offer the judicial assistance requested by the Italian Authorities. Added to which in the criminal proceedings brought against Lincoln he was sentenced to nine years imprisonment, while Smith was admitted to a criminal mental institution.

This, indeed, was the level of witness that the authorities in Palermo were bent on using, even after they had been warned by Dr. Bruce, Director of Interpol in Pretoria, and by the Head of the Legal Office of Interpol in Pretoria, Advocate G. Joubert, that Smith and Lincoln were facing charges in South Africa and in any case were not authorised to provide documents and cooperation outside of diplomatic channels.

Smith, who was called as a witness for the Prosecution in the rogatory proceedings conducted in South Africa by the Court and presided over by Dr. Puleo, refused to give his testimony in Cape Town, citing his alleged mental illness, as certified by a psychiatrist, but did not make a similar decision when he was to give testimony during court proceedings in Palermo.

The modus operandi is easy to understand.

Smith was then able to restate his false statements (which had already been deprived of legitimacy in South Africa under the Order of 7.9.2001). These statements, made to the relevant South African Authorities, would have led to criminal consequences.

But beyond that (the violation of the most basic principles of Internal Law), the persecutory nature of the warrant of arrest against Palazzolo is transparent.

Firstly, the allegation that Palazzolo was associated with the Sicilian Mafia from the year 1980: This can easily be disproved by the judgment handed down by the Court in Rome on 28 March 1992, which acquitted him because the fact did not exist. In terms of our legal system, this constitutes an unassailable judgment. In fact, the very existence of this judgment forced a change to be made to the charges at the outset of the proceedings that subsequently became a conviction, which held that the tempus commissi delicti (the timing) should run from the 29 March 1992, and not from 1980.

Secondly, that Palazzolo had offered hospitality to two Mafia members and fugitives from justice, Giovanni Bonomo and Giuseppe Gelardi: This is disproved both in documentation and more specifically because precautionary measures (ergo, that they were subject to criminal proceedings) were imposed on them only on 29th May, that is, subsequent to their departure from South Africa, which took place on the 21 May 1996. However, even if they had been subjected to the restrictive measures issued by the Italian Judicial Authorities, this is a far cry from a confirmation of their guilt. All citizens are, after all, innocent until an irrevocable conviction is passed against them.

Thirdly, reference is made to charges brought by several state witnesses on Palazzolo’s conduct. At this point we must shine a light, once again, on the highly questionable activities and motives of the South African’s who were colluding with the authorities in Palermo who – for reasons we can explore – were hell bent on extraditing Palazzolo from SA to Italy.

There was a meeting on 15.10.03 between Court officials in Palermo and a delegation from the South African Department of Justice, consisting of four officials: Advocate Pikoli, E. Daniels, N.J. Makhuebele and F. Fortune. This meeting took place while proceedings were underway in the trial, which was critically detrimental to Palazzolo’s case. In the court proceedings the delegation had insisted that the Italian and South African defence counsel be excluded from the meeting. During the meeting they stated that they were prepared to accept the rogatory proceedings proposed by the Italian Authorities, on condition that the witnesses that had already been approved by the Court, namely Nguka, Morrison and Bruce were excluded from the list of witnesses. Which the court – without consulting the Defence, and in their absence – accepted. Thus excluding Nguka, Morrison and Bruce from the rogatory proceedings.

So what was their motive for engineering this? These high ranking officials, the Deputy Attorney General, the Attorney General of the Republic of South Africa and the Head of the Interpol Office in Pretoria would have been asked by Palazzolo’s Defence Counsel whether he had committed any crimes in South Africa, and whether there were any investigations underway in his regard? To which the only reply was that there were none, and that they themselves had withdrawn all the charges based on the police reports drawn up by Smith and Viljoen, as can be seen from the Order dated 7.9.2001, in which it specified that they “would never again in the future proceed against him with regard to the same faces referred to in the Order”. And they would also have had to refer to the existence of the acquittal judgment relating to Palazzolo handed down on 14.3.03 for the charge of fraud regarding the acquisition of South African citizenship.

The complete falseness of the reports signed by the police officials Smith and Viljoen, therefore, which had been illegally handed over to the S.C.O, would have been there for all the world to see.

In conclusion, the conduct of the Judicial Authorities in Palermo in collusion with the South African Authorities led to the umpteenth violation of Palazzolo’s rights to a defence. In this manner, by interrogating people that had already been disqualified by the proposing Authorities, their sole purpose is to convict Palazzolo for crimes that he never committed.