“These things are not always straight forward. For example, we have to take into consideration the extradition treaties between Namibia and Italy, and this is where we came across some challenges,” Sam said.
He continued to explain that although they had not arrested Palazzolo he was under constant surveillance by predominately the Namibian, South African and Italian Governments.
“We ensured that there was comprehensive tracking of his movements. However, we do what’s possible as there are specific requests to certain countries to monitor people,” he said.
The Interpol detective also revealed that at the time Palazzolo approached the Inspector-General of the Namibian Police, Lieutenant General Sebastian Ndeitunga, for information relating to his case, he was already under investigation.
Ndeitunga when speaking to this paper confirmed that Palazzolo had come to see him at the time, accompanied by business partner Sacky Nujoma.
“They came here saying that Palazzolo had not done anything and that people wanted to damage his reputation. He then asked me if the police had received any request for his extradition,” Ndeitunga said.
The Inspector-General explained that he then called the local Interpol office to enquire about the fugitive, and found that a foreign government had made a request to arrest him.
“I can’t recall every detail as it was some time back, but from what I remember the time we received the red notice he was already out of the country,” Ndeitunga stated.
After leaving Namibia Palazzolo lived as a fugitive in South Africa for almost two years until the Thai government extradited him from a prison in Thailand to Italy in December last year.
Palazzolo, 66, was flown from Bangkok’s Klong Prison back to Italy to serve a nine-year sentence in the high security Opera Prison in Milan, which is reserved for members of the mafia, according to international news reports.
The Sunday Times reported last year that a South African detective tipped off the Italian authorities when he heard Palazzolo had travelled to Thailand on holiday.
At the time, Palazzolo, who lived in Cape Town, had evaded the FBI, Italian and Swiss authorities for 26 years. Detective Sam refuted claims that Namibia had become a safe haven for fugitives, stating that these arrangements were only temporary and that eventually these individuals would have to face their crimes.
“What people need to know is that the extradition process is a long one and although we might not solve these cases quickly the culprits can run in the meantime but they won’t be able to hide.”
“These people also spend their lives looking behind their backs, Namibia is not a safe haven,” Sam stressed.
He concluded by highlighting that all Namibian entry points have the list of names of individuals wanted by Interpol and immigration authorities would alert them as soon as someone tried to enter the country.
Sam however, remarked that they would not necessarily arrest or extradite everyone who appears on a list immediately.
Consultations first had to take place between the countries and the Namibian Police would have to conduct its own investigations into the charges.