Marino mulls bodyguard amid mafia probe

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Ignazio Marino admitted to being "a bit worried" about fears for his safety. Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP
16:41 CET+01:00
Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino on Friday said he was considering adopting a security escort, just days after police announced a widespread operation into a mafia organization at city hall.

City prefect Giuseppe Pecoraro advised Marino to take up an escort, arguing that cycling around the city alone could be “dangerous”, the mayor said.

“I was a bit worried,” Marino told journalists in Rome. “I promised to not use my bike before Sunday, to give me some time to think about it.”

The left-wing politician began his term in office last year by cycling to city hall, but such freedom could soon be curtailed due to a mafia probe embroiling his predecessor.

Police on Tuesday raided the home of Gianni Alemanno, putting the former mayor and 99 others under investigation for involvement in a criminal network that robbed Rome of millions of euros.

READ MORE: Anti-mafia probe shakes Italian capital

The probe has sent shockwaves through city hall, prompting fears for Marino’s safety. But the mayor said he was “fundamentally against” the way security escorts are used in Rome.

“In our city there are 1,000 people with an escort. I don’t think there are 1,000 people whose lives are at risk.

“I think that for many politicians having an escort is a comfort; always having a car at home and someone to drive,” Marino said.

Some Italian politicians have, however, faced serious threats from criminal groups. Last year a vocal anti-mafia mayor in Calabria, Maria Carmela Lanzetta, resigned after her car was shot at and her pharmacy burnt down.

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Sicily’s Cosa Nostra mafia once plotted to kill Rudolph Giuliani, the former New York mayor, notorious mobster Toto Riina claimed.

But despite the perceived threats against the mayor of Rome, Marino remained determined to tackle the criminal network.

“I am convinced we will remove this stain,” he said. “We will have the pride to bring transparency and legality back to our city.” 

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