Mafia turncoats help police solve 1989 murder

He was tortured, strangled and crushed beneath a tractor but it has taken Italian police 25 years to learn who was responsible for the brutal murder of Paolo Letizia.

Mafia turncoats help police solve 1989 murder
Italian police say they have solved a murder case dating back to 1989. Photo: Shutterstock

In an apparent conclusion to this gruesome ‘cold case’, police on Tuesday accused five men – including a cousin of one of the most feared Camorra bosses Francesco Schiavone – of Letizia’s murder in 1989.

Letizia was kidnapped from his home in Villa di Briano near Caserta outside Naples on September 19th 1989 and he is believed to have been killed as part of a brutal feud. His body has never been found.

Francesco Schiavone, cousin of the former leader of the notorious Casalesi clan with the same name. and Walter Schiavone were among the three who ordered the killing, police have alleged.

Two others – Giuseppe Russo and Salvatore Cantiello – have been accused by prosecutors of carrying out the murder. All five men are in prison for other crimes.

Police said the crime had been solved with the aid of mafia turncoats who had collaborated with police and anti-mafia investigators.

Francesco Della Corte, a friend of the victim, told prosecutors that Letizia had been tortured and then run over by a tractor as the Casalesi clan carried out a campaign of violent elimination.

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New York returns 214 stolen artworks to Italy in seven months

Authorities in New York announced on Thursday the return to Italy of 14 more antiquities, worth an estimated €2.3 million, as part of an investigation into smuggling of stolen artifacts.

New York returns 214 stolen artworks to Italy in seven months

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has been conducting an extensive investigation over the past two years into looted antiquities that have ended up in New York museums and galleries — including the prestigious Metropolitan Museum of Art.

During a ceremony on Thursday with the Italian consul general and Italian police representatives, 14 more artifacts – some 2,600 years old – were officially returned to Italy, bringing the total number of repatriated pieces to that country over the past seven months to 214, District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office said.

READ ALSO: Italian ‘art squad’ police recover 800 illegally-excavated archaeological finds

More than 700 pieces worth more than $100 million have been returned in the past year to 17 countries, including Italy as well as Cambodia, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq, and Greece, the statement added.

New York, a hub of stolen antiquities trafficking for decades, set up a task force in 2017 to investigate the illicit trade.

According to the statement by District Attorney Bragg, who took office in January 2022, Thursday’s repatriation included the silver “Sicily Naxos Coin,” minted around 430 BCE and currently valued at half a million dollars.

Other notable items included ancient pottery dating to 510 BCE, and amarble head of Roman Emperor Hadrian, dating to 200 CE.

Among the culprits behind the 14 returned pieces, the statement said, were well-known art traffickers Giacomo Medici and Giovanni Franco Becchina, as well as Robert Hecht, the Paris-based American art dealer who died in 2012.

The traffickers had “relied on gangs of tombaroli (tomb raiders) to loot carefully chosen and insufficiently guarded archaeological sites throughout the Mediterranean,” it added.