Outcry as mafia boss given lavish send-off

A gilded horse-drawn carriage, rose petals thrown from a helicopter and the theme tune from The Godfather. You really couldn’t make it up: this was how mourners paid their last respects to a mafia boss in Rome on Thursday, sparking outrage in a city embroiled in a mafia-linked corruption scandal.

Outcry as mafia boss given lavish send-off
The body of Vittorio Casamonica, 65, was brought to the church in a horse-drawn carriage. Screengrab: La Presse

Hundreds gathered outside San Giovanni Bosco church on the outskirts of Rome as the body of Vittorio Casamonica, 65, was brought to the church in a carriage led by six black horses.

Casamonica was a boss of the Casamonica clan, which has been accused of drug trafficking, racketeering and prostitution in Rome’s southeast, Ansa reported.

An orchestra welcomed the don to the church, which was adorned with banners saying “You have conquered Rome, now conquer heaven” and “King of Rome”, with the theme tune from the famous The Godfather film.

Watch it all unfold here:

And that’s not all. After the service, the coffin, adorned with an image of Padre Pio, left the church in a Rolls-Royce as the orchestra played the soundtrack of another famous film, 2001: Space Odyssey.

“He was a good person,” one mourner was quoted by Ansa as saying.

Needless to say, the lavish send-off sparked fury among politicians of the ruling Democratic Party and others, who demanded to know who authorized the funeral.

Democratic Party chairman Matteo Orfini tweeted: “Never again. Rome cannot be defaced by those who would like to turn it into a Godfather set”.

Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino said it was “intolerable that funerals are used by the living to send mafia messages”.

Meanwhile, the Vicariate of Rome, the local Catholic Church authority, said it was “embarrassed”.

But parish priest, the Reverend Giancarlo Manieri, told Ansa he had no control over what happened outside the church and that inside the funeral was celebrated normally.

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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.