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CRIME

Three arrested over Italian doctor’s murder

Three people have been arrested in connection with the murder of an Italian doctor in Kenya.

Three arrested over Italian doctor’s murder
The school run by the For Life charity in Mijomboni, Kenya. Photo: For Life

Rita Fossaceca, 51, died and three other Italians were injured in an armed robbery on Saturday in the village of Mijomboni, which is situated less than 30 kilometres (20 miles) inland from the resorts of Malindi and Watamu.

The radiologist from Novara, in northern Italy, was in Kenya volunteering for the For Life charity organization, which is in the process of establishing an orphanage and a clinic in Mijomboni and also works to promote alternatives to coming-of-age ceremonies involving female genital mutilation.

Police spokesman Charles Owino said three people had been arrested over the murder, Ansa reported on Monday.

The injured Italians were reported to have been Fossaceca's parents and another relative. The doctor was reportedly shot dead after trying to defend her mother from a machete attack.

Fossaceca had been in Kenya for only three weeks on her latest trip. In her final post on the NGO's site, she described buying a cow for the orphanage.

“She is pregnant and in three months we will have a calf and finally we will have milk for the village,” she wrote.

The murder is another blow to Kenya's tourist industry which has been hit hard in recent years by the fallout from deadly attacks mounted by Islamists based in neighbouring Somalia.

Kenyan officials had been hoping for a boost to visitor numbers in the aftermath of last week's visit by Pope Francis, which passed without incident. 

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MAFIA

Italian police seize €250 million and arrest 56 in latest mafia blitz

In its latest mafia sting, Italian police took down a large 'Ndrangheta ring in southern Calabria, placing 56 people under investigation including a regional councillor and a former head of the regional tourism board.

Italian police seize €250 million and arrest 56 in latest mafia blitz

The early-morning blitz by over 300 police focused on areas of Calabria – Italy’s poorest region – under the control of the Mancuso clan, a powerful branch of the infamous ‘Ndrangheta, many of whose top operatives are among hundreds of defendants in an ongoing ‘maxi-trial’.

Fifty-six people, many already in prison, were put under criminal investigation for a series of crimes including mafia-related conspiracy, extortion, kidnapping, bribery and possession of weapons, police and prosecutors said.

READ ALSO: ‘Ndrangheta: It’s time to bust some myths about the Calabrian mafia

Besides alleged mafia members, the operation also snared businessmen, a regional councillor released from prison days earlier, a former head of the regional tourism board and two civil servants, police said.

The incarcerated boss of the clan, Luigi Mancuso, also known as “The Supreme”, is the biggest mafioso in the massive mafia trial that started in January 2021.

Still, police said, his clan and affiliates, including the La Rosa and Accortini families, have continued to dominate illegal activities in the Vibo Valentia province, which is located right on the toe of Italy’s boot and is widely known as the ‘Coast of the Gods’ due to its stunning coastal views.

One mafia scheme involved the infiltration of a foreign tour operator in Pizzo Calabro, overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea.

No one talks

In Calabria, the extent of the ‘Ndrangheta’s reach in the local economy has made it near impossible to eradicate it.

By controlling the bulk of cocaine flowing into Europe, the ‘Ndrangheta has surpassed Sicily’s Cosa Nostra in power and wealth. It has extended far beyond its rural roots and now operates internationally, with illegal gains reinvested in the legitimate economy.

In the area around Vibo Valentia, extortion of local businesses and the fixing of public tenders is also common.

The allegations against those arrested Thursday include the transport and sale of stolen farm machinery to Malta and Romania, police said.

The sting carried out on Thursday extended to other parts of Calabria, Palermo in Sicily and as far as Rome and Milan, police said.

READ ALSO: Meet Nicola Gratteri, the prosecutor leading Italy’s battle against the mafia

In a press conference, anti-mafia prosecutor Nicola Gratteri, whose efforts to defeat the ‘Ndrangheta have forced him to live under police escort for over 30 years, called the group a “fierce mafia syndicate” controlling areas around the tourist resort of Tropea.

Francesco Messina, who leads Italy’s organised crime investigative unit (DAC), cited the economic power of the clan, which relies locally on “substantial” extortion activity.

The “total absence” of complaints to authorities was striking, Messina said, underscoring the ‘Ndrangheta’s power to intimidate.

By Alexandria Sage

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