Wanted mafia boss Domenico Rancadore arrested in London
A mafia boss wanted in Italy since the 1990s has been arrested in London but may be released because of "significant deficiencies" with his arrest warrant.
Domenico Rancadore, 64, was wanted over his links with Cosa Nostra.
He was the head of a crime family involved in extortion, racketeering and drug trafficking, Italian police said.
But the judge at Westminster Magistrates' Court said there were concerns over the warrant's validity. He will be in court again on Friday.
The Metropolitan Police arrested Rancadore on Wednesday evening at a residential address in Manor Waye, Uxbridge, under a European Arrest Warrant issued in January 2012.
The court was told that when the police arrived, he tried to leave by the back door but a police officer was there.
He told them his name was Marc Skinner but the officer said he knew who he really was, the judge was told.
End Quote Angelino Alfano Italian Deputy Prime Minister
Another important mobster was taken into custody and will go to jail”
However, in court on Thursday afternoon District Judge Quentin Purdy said: "The warrant may be such it has to be discharged."
Defending, Euan Macmillan said there were "significant deficiencies" with the document.
Rancadore has been remanded in custody until a hearing on Friday afternoon when the judge will decide if he can be released on bail.'Most dangerous fugitive'
The court heard how the Italian came to the UK in 1993, after being acquitted at the end of a three-year court case over Mafia allegations.
But in a second trial in 1999, the former teacher was convicted in his absence of being part of a criminal organisation between 1987 to 1995. He was sentenced to seven years in jail.
Mr Macmillan said Rancadore had lived "a blameless life" in Britain.
The Italian Interior Ministry said he had run a travel agency in London and had led a comfortable life.
In a statement, it said: "Several co-operating witnesses have referred to him as a leading member of the Palermo Mafia 'family', with a senior managerial role in the Caccamo 'commandment'.
"In particular, in the 1990s, he played the role of chief of the Cosa Nostra in Trabia, Palermo.
"The operation is the result of the important relationship of international police co-operation ensured through Interpol."
Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Italy, Angelino Alfano, said he was "pleased" one of the "most dangerous fugitives" had been arrested.
"I'm grateful to the Italian police for its indefatigable search for fugitives, but also to the English detectives who had received the information from the Italian police and intervened.
"Another important mobster was taken into custody and will go to jail.''
John Dickie, professor of Italian studies at University College London, said: "Rancadore is very much a significant player within Cosa Nostra.
"He is a family boss so very much part of the organisational hierarchy."'Swear it's all wrong'
Joan Hills, a 76-year-old neighbour, who lives in Manor Waye, said Rancadore and his family had lived in the road for several years.
End Quote Joan Hills Domenico Rancadore's neighbour
I don't know the ins and outs of this, but they are the nicest people that you could wish to meet”
"I know him very well and he's one of the best neighbours you could ever have," she said.
"They have been here for years. I've seen the children grow up with my children. I don't know the ins and outs of this, but they are the nicest people that you could wish to meet."
One neighbour told BBC London that she knew the Italian and he was a very good neighbour.
She said: "I swear it's all wrong. If you ever met him, you'd never think what they're saying about him was true."
However a different neighbour said he had his suspicions something was wrong as he often saw people waiting in cars for abnormally long periods of time.
Tennis coach Terry Stidder, 53, who lives two doors down from Rancadore, said the family moved in about 13 years ago.
He said Rancadore had argued with a neighbour when he planted some hedges.
Mr Stidder said Rancadore had told the neighbour: "Sorry, but I've got to have this."
He added: "We always thought he was a chauffeur because he had such nice cars and he would always go out dressed very nicely.
"He was always very well dressed. Most of the time he would be in a very sharp suit, which, if you think about it, that is your typical Mafioso type."