The foreign affairs ministry has confirmed reports in the Italian media of the arrest of fugitive Cosimo Solazzo, wanted in Belgium in connection with the 1991 murder of senior socialist politician André Cools.
“We have received confirmation via our embassy in Rome that Cosimo Solazzo was arrested by the carabineers at Veglie, on the basis of the European arrest warrant issued by Belgian justice,” a ministry spokesperson told Belga news agency.
Solazzo, now aged 72, was sentenced to 20 years in his absence by a court in Liege in January 2004
André Cools, a former president of the French-speaking socialist party PS, was gunned down leaving his partner’s apartment on the morning of 18 July 1991. His partner was also shot and wounded.
A special police unit of six officers was set up to investigate the killing, but it took until 1994 before an arrest was made. In 1998 two Tunisian men were arrested and convicted of firing the shots, on the orders of a group of political enemies of Cools.
It was speculated that Cools was about to blow the whistle on the link between the members of the group and various scandals surrounding the party, including bribery.
Solazzo was accused of having arranged the flat where the two killers stayed while in Belgium, as well as driving them around on reconnaissance of the area. The two men, who were known to have links to the Italian Mafia, had left Belgium in the hours immediately following the murder. They were tried in Tunis in 1998 and sentenced to 25 years.
Solazzo fled Belgium for Italy shortly before the trial of his confederates started in 2004. They were sentenced to 20 years, and he was sentenced in absentia.
He is now under house arrest In Veglie, in the heel of Italy, awaiting an electronic ankle band, while a decision is made regarding his extradition to Belgium.