Slain Italian mafia boss, henchman denied public funeral

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Foggia (Italy), Aug 11 (IANS/AKI) Murdered mafia boss Mario Luciano Romito and his brother-in-law Matteo De Palma were buried secretly in southern Italy on Friday after the local police chief banned public funerals for the pair.

Fifty-year-old Romito and Matteo De Palma, 44, were interred in a cemetery in the coastal town of Manfredonia on the orders of the police chief in the province of Foggia, where the men were shot dead in their car on Wednesday near the town of San Marco in Lamis.

Two agricultural workers who witnessed Romito and De Palma’s murders were also shot dead in the ambush, bringing to 17 the number of people killed this year in the Puglia region by feuding mafia clans.

Italy’s Interior Minister Marco Minniti visited the area on Thursday and said the latest killings in Puglia’s picturesque Gargano peninsula – a major tourist attraction – underlined the lawlessness that had taken hold there.

“The state’s response to these killings of innocent people will be very severe,” said Minniti.

“We must guarantee peace and security for the area’s residents and for the tourists who visit

it.”

The murder of four people on a highway in broad daylight showed the Gargano peninsula is beyond the control of the Italian state, Minniti said, pledging to ramp up security in the area.

“We will battle organised crime in this province as a matter of national importance,” he said, referring to the province of Foggia where the Gargano pensinsula is located.

Extra units of special investigators from Italy’s top security agencies would also be relocated to Foggia, Minniti said.

A day of commemoration for all mafia victims is also planned next year.

There have been 300 mafia-related murders in Puglia in the last 30 years and over 80 percent of these have gone unpunished, Italy’s chief anti-mafia prosecutor Franco Roberti told Italian public radio RAI.

The mafia in the Puglia region “is more violent and aggressive” than the “better-organised” Sicilian and Naples mafia and the ‘Ndrangheta in Calabria, according to Roberti.

–IANS/AKI

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