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The United States is criticizing a crucial ally over the controversial escape of a Russian arms smuggler

The United States is criticizing a crucial ally over the controversial escape of a Russian arms smuggler

A Kremlin-linked businessman accused of illegally exporting US military equipment to Russia was arrested in Italy at the behest of the US, but managed to escape to Moscow after Italy placed him under house arrest, causing friction between the US and Italy. Distorting Italy’s image as a reliable partner in the confrontation with Russia over Ukraine. The escape also denied the United States a potential tool for a prisoner exchange, including the release of Wall Street Journal reporter Ivan Gershkovich, who was unjustly detained in Russia.

Artem Osh, the son of an influential Russian politician close to President Vladimir Putin, evaded the Italian authorities with the help of an international network, including a Serbian criminal gang. The US Embassy in Rome has expressed disappointment over Italy’s failure to prevent Oz’s escape, raising suspicions of corruption or collusion within parts of the Italian government or judiciary. Osz’s escape highlighted the challenges of Italy’s overburdened justice system, which relies heavily on house arrest and petty restrictions such as travel bans, which often result in defendants avoiding prison cells, according to reports. Wall Street Journal.

Uz’s main business has been import and export, including smuggling oil from Venezuela and exporting to Russia sensitive dual-use US technology found on the battlefield in Ukraine. His father, a director of the state-owned oil giant Rosneft, has close ties to Putin, and the family’s business interests are spread across the globe. Italy has underestimated Uz to both Moscow and Washington, and legal experts say more precautions should have been taken, such as active surveillance under house arrest.

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Although Italy agreed to extradite Oz to the United States, a Milan court placed him under house arrest because he owned property in Italy and it was assumed that he would not run away.

The US Department of Justice has expressed concern to Italian authorities about the risk of Oz’ escape, citing previous cases of fugitives who fled Italy during extradition proceedings. However, the decision to order house arrest was left to the judges, who have not commented on the case.

Uz disappeared a day after a Milan court approved an extradition request from the United States with the help of a Serbian criminal gang. It is believed that the Russian intelligence agents shied away from the escape to avoid the investigation. The US changed cars and crossed several borders before arriving in Serbia and then flying to Moscow. The Italian government froze Oz’s assets in Italy, and the Minister of Justice initiated disciplinary proceedings against the judges who had ordered his house arrest. However, the judges are unlikely to be punished, as their decision was seen as an error in judgment rather than a clear error in the application of the law.

Cover image: Getty Images.

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