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article imageItaly steel fugitive extradited from Britain

By AFP     Jun 5, 2015 in World

An Italian fugitive who played a key role in running one of Europe's most polluted steel plants was extradited from Britain on Friday and arrested in Rome.

Fabio Riva, the son of steel tycoon Emilio Riva, was cuffed by border police as he arrived at Fiumicino airport after losing a battle in May against his extradition from London.

Riva, who had been wanted since 2012, is now expected to stand trial with about 50 other defendants in Taranto in the Puglia region of southern Italy, where the family's ageing Ilva plant is based.

The charges against them range from causing an environmental disaster and poisoning foodstuffs to corruption and abuse of office.

Riva is also subject to a separate arrest warrant issued by a Milan court in 2014 for alleged fraud, financial police said in a statement.

Riva's billionaire father had been placed under house arrest in 2012 but died last year.

The site in Taranto, which provides work for around 16,000 people, has been under special administration since 2013 after the Rivas were accused of failing to prevent toxic emissions including carcinogenic particles from spewing out across the town.

The plant used to churn out an estimated nine million tonnes of steel per year -- about a third of the country's total production.

But experts found that the chemicals it emitted were behind high cancer rates and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases among workers and locals, who suffered from a "mortality excess" of between 10 and 15 percent.

Prosecutors in Taranto, who say the emissions have caused at least 400 deaths, expect the case to go to trial later this year.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has promised to clean up Ilva and sell it on. And despite the health fallout, locals cheer support for one of the few large-scale employers in the area, where the jobless rate stands at 20.6 percent -- well above the 12.7 percent national average.

More about Italy, Britain, Steel, Health, Pollution
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