A convicted Italian mafia boss who was arrested in London has been granted bail.
Domenico Rancadore, aka 'U profissuri' (the professor), is facing extradition to Italy where he was sentenced for mafia-related crimes in the 1990s.
A judge at Westminster Magistrates' Court set conditional bail at £50,000 on the 64-year-old defendant who has been described as a "leading figure" in the Sicilian Cosa Nostra by Italy's interior ministry. Rancadore's extradition hearing was postponed to February after the prosecution asked for more time to prepare evidence.
"An injustice would be caused to him if he remains in custody for more than six months and is eventually discharged," Judge Howard Riddle told the court.
Rancadore did not walk free, however, after prosecutors said they would appeal.
Riddle attached a number of strict conditions to the bail, saying that the allegations were "manifestly serious" and that there was clear evidence he had been hiding from Italian justice in the UK.
If released, Rancadore will have to live and sleep at his home address and remain indoors wearing an electronic tag from 8pm to 4am and from noon to 2pm.
He will have to report to Uxbridge police station twice a day and keep his mobile phone on at all times.
"These conditions are the least I can propose," Riddle said.
Rancadore appeared calm but tired at the hearing.
He went on the run in 1994 over charges of mafia-related crimes in Palermo.
He was sentenced in his absence to seven years in jail for mafia association and extortion in 1999 but by then was already in Britain under a false identity.
Rancadore had been acquitted from similar charges in two other trials in the early '90s.
The father-of-two has lived in Britain for two decades under the assumed name of Marc Skinner, using his wife Anne's maiden name.
Escape out the back
Rancadore allegedly tried to escape through the back door as police knocked at the front but walked straight into the arms of a waiting detective constable.
Riddle said it was "clear and obvious" that he failed to surrender.
Rancadore blew a kiss to his wife sitting in the public gallery as he was led out of the court room.
The Judge said that his "clear family ties" played a role in his decision to grant him bail.
Riddle also noted that Rancadore had no convictions in Britain and suffered from a heart condition. "His health is not the best," Judge Riddle said.
A European Arrest Warrant against Rancadore was first issued in January 2012.
Italian media reported that British police initially did not execute the warrant because of the terminology of the charges.
Mafia association is a loosely described crime which exists only in the Italian legal system where it is largely used to convict mobsters.
The original warrant was replaced by a more detailed one after Rancadore's lawyers claimed that there were "significant deficiencies" in the first document.
Sources at the Palermo prosecutor's office told IBTimes UK that they believed Rancadore's arrest followed a change of attitude by British authorities towards extraditions for mafia-related crimes.
An appeal hearing on the bail decision is expected to be held later this week.