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MAFIA

Italy wants answers on mobster’s flashy funeral

Italy's interior minister has demanded to know why a mafia boss was allowed a lavish funeral, with his coffin drawn through the streets of Rome in a gilded horse-drawn carriage as roses petals were dropped from a helicopter.

Italy wants answers on mobster's flashy funeral
Italy's interior minister Angelino Alfano has demanded to know why a mafia boss was allowed a lavish funeral. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Posters outside the church in the east of the city declared Vittorio Casamonica the “King of Rome”, while mourners were greeted with music from the film “The Godfather”.

Read more: Outcry as mafia boss given lavish send-off

Interior Minister Angelino Alfano and Rome's mayor Ignazio Marino said they were furious at the defiant spectacle, with the city's police chief admitting Friday to “a failure in the system”.

“It is intolerable that a funeral should be used to pass mafia messages,” Marino said on Twitter.

Although he was never convicted of being a Mafia don, the 65-year-old – who died of cancer – was the alleged head of Casamonica clan, which reportedly runs drugs, fraud and extortion rings in Rome.

The clan – which has its roots in the Roma community – is one of crime networks accused of infiltrating the city's government and influencing politicians in a spiralling corruption investigation.

The day before Thursday's funeral a judge had set the date for the trial of 59 people charged in relation to graft around the awarding of city contracts.

The gaudy event has gone down particularly badly because in 2006 the same church refused a funeral to the terminally ill poet Piergiorgio Welby, who was helped to die by one of his doctors in a case that divided Italy.

But the new priest in charge of the church said he knew nothing of Casamonica's past, or of the pomp his friends had planned for his send-off.

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ROME

Body of missing American tourist found in Rome’s River Tiber

The body of a missing 21-year-old tourist was found in the River Tiber on Thursday morning, according to media reports.

Body of missing American tourist found in Rome's River Tiber

Elijah Oliphant, from Dallas, Texas, was on holiday with his family in Rome when he went missing several days ago.

Oliphant’s parents reported his disappearance after he left his hotel room shortly after midnight on May 24th and did not return.

Hotel security footage showed him leaving the premises wearing a white undershirt and pyjama bottoms, which he was wearing when he was found.

Oliphant’s corpse was reportedly spotted by passersby near the Ponte Sisto bridge in Rome’s Trastevere district around 10am on Thursday morning. His body was positively identified by his parents.

Members of the fire brigade and river police who recovered the body say there were no obvious signs of violence, but an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death. Trastevere police are reportedly investigating the matter.

The Oliphant family had arrived in Rome for a holiday on May 23rd. When Elijah went missing the following day, his parents launched an urgent appeal to help find their son.

His disappearance was featured on the missing persons television show, Chi l’ha visto (‘Who’s seen them?’) on May 25th.

Several foreigners have been found drowned in the Tiber in recent years, though there are no indication that any of the incidents are linked.

In 2016, the body of 19-year-old American student Beau Solomon was recovered from the river.

Rough sleeper Massimo Galioto was charged involuntary manslaughter in the case, but was ultimately acquitted in 2020.

Prosecutors said that Galioto pushed Solomon in the course of a violent argument. Galioto’s defense team acknowledged that the two had argued but said the student had accidentally slipped.

In May 2019, 37-year-old Imen Chatbouri, a former athletics champion from Tunisia, was found dead in the Tiber after a night out. CCTV footage later showed she had been pushed from the Ponte Sisto bridge.

A then-26-year-old man whose advances she had rejected earlier that evening was convicted of her murder in November 2021.

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