A fugitive Mafia boss discovered living in the UK as a suburban house husband could walk free on Friday due to "significant deficiencies" in the warrant for his arrest.
Domenico Rancadore, 64, who is wanted by the Italian authorities, was arrested by British police at his home in Uxbridge, west London, on Wednesday night under a European Arrest Warrant.
The father-of-two had been living as a house husband under the alias Marc Skinner since 1993 while his wife, Anne, ran a travel agency to support the family.
As he appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court, District Judge Quentin Purdy said: "The warrant may be such it has to be discharged. There are concerns about the validity of the warrant that has come before the court."
Defending, Euan Macmillan agreed that there were "significant deficiencies" with the document. The judge remanded Rancadore in custody until a hearing at 2pm on Friday, when he will decide whether the Italian can be released on bail.
Wearing a pale blue shirt with dark trousers, Rancadore was helped by an Italian interpreter as he sat in the dock holding a copy of the arrest warrant. The former teacher is wanted in Italy to serve a seven-year jail term for being part of a criminal organisation between 1987 and 1995, having been convicted in his absence in 1999. He was "a man of honour" in Mafia group Cosa Nostra, controlling Trabia, near Palermo in Sicily, the court heard.
When police arrived at his home at around 7pm on Wednesday, he tried to flee through the back door of his home, but came face to face with a waiting detective constable.
He initially gave police his false name - Skinner is his wife's maiden name - but eventually came clean. District Judge Purdy said he was "leaving via the back gate when police were at the front door of his home", and he "fled as soon as he discovered they were there, without further inquiry".
The court heard that Rancadore has a heart condition and was taken to hospital by police when he began suffering chest pains. He had a stent fitted last year and has high blood pressure, high cholesterol and angina, Mr Macmillan said.
Rancadore, whose wife and daughter were in court, came to the UK in 1993, after being acquitted at the end of a three-year court case for Mafia allegations.