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CRIME

Calabrian mayor resigns after ‘mafia pressure’

A Calabrian mayor has resigned after claiming his car was destroyed by local mafia in a campaign of intimidation against him.

Calabrian mayor resigns after 'mafia pressure'
Rosario Rocca resigned as mayor of Benestare after his car was set on fire on Monday night. Photo: Rosario Rocca's Facebook page

Rosario Rocca, mayor of the hill town of Benestare which has only 2,500 inhabitants, tendered his resignation after his car was set on fire on Monday night, according to Corriere della Sera.

“I no longer have the strength to continue after years of solitary and unheeded resistance to the wrongdoing, crime and self-serving bureaucracy,” Rocca said in his letter of resignation sent to Italian president Giorgio Napolitano and other officials. The letter was also posted on his Facebook page.

“I can no longer represent people with dignity due to the state of abandonment and isolation in our region which has been deliberately and tragically forgotten by a blind and absent state.”

Head of a centre-left coalition, the mayor had sought to ensure legality in his administration and his approach angered clans linked to the Calabrian mafia or ‘ndrangheta, one of the most powerful organized crime organizations in the world.

He could not be reached for comment when contacted by The Local.

Rocca is not the only prominent member of the local community who has paid the price for standing up to the mafia. 

In recent months, the mafia is also believed to have been responsible for destroying the car of Father Elangui Rigobert, a local priest committed to fighting organized crime.

A recent government report into intimidation of administrators revealed Calabria in first place with 85 cases – with most of the cases found in the region surrounding the capital Reggo Calabria.

In July another Calabrian mayor, Maria Carmela Lanzetta, made front page news when she resigned after a lengthy campaign of violent intimidation.

Lanzetta, a pharmacist, had been mayor of the small town of Monasterace since 2006 but quit after her shop was set on fire and her car was sprayed with bullets.

She became a national symbol in the fight against the Calabrian mafia which dominates the global cocaine trade with an elaborate international network and cells in Canada, Argentina and Australia.

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CRIME

New York returns millions worth of stolen art to Italy

Prosecutors in New York on Tuesday returned dozens of antiquities stolen from Italy and valued at around $19 million, some of which were found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

New York returns millions worth of stolen art to Italy

“These 58 pieces represent thousands of years of rich history, yet traffickers throughout Italy utilized looters to steal these items and to line their own pockets,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, noting that it was the third such repatriation in nine months.

“For far too long, they have sat in museums, homes, and galleries that had no rightful claim to their ownership,” he said at a ceremony attended by Italian diplomats and law enforcement officials.

The stolen items had been sold to Michael Steinhardt, one of the world’s leading collectors of ancient art, the DA’s office said, adding that he had been slapped with a “first-of-its-kind lifetime ban on acquiring antiquities.”

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Among the recovered treasures, which in some cases were sold to “unwitting collectors and museums,” were a marble head of the Greek goddess Athena from 200 B.C.E. and a drinking cup dating back to 470 B.C.E, officials said.

The pieces were stolen at the behest of four men who “all led highly lucrative criminal enterprises – often in competition with one another – where they would use local looters to raid archaeological sites throughout Italy, many of which were insufficiently guarded,” the DA’s office said.

One of them, Pasquale Camera, was “a regional crime boss who organized thefts from museums and churches as early as the 1960s. He then began purchasing stolen artifacts from local looters and sold them to antiquities dealers,” it added.

It said that this year alone, the DA’s office has “returned nearly 300 antiquities valued at over $66 million to 12 countries.”

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