Italy sacks council in Sicilian 'Godfather' town

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Corleone was the birthplace of mobsters Bernardo Provenzano and Salvatore "Toto" Riina. Photo: Fabrizio Villa/AFP
09:57 CEST+02:00
Italy's government has disbanded the local council in Corleone because of suspected mafia infiltration of the Sicilian town which helped inspire Francis Coppola's "Godfather" series.

The real-life birthplace of some of Italy's most notorious mobsters, the hilltop town near Palermo gained international fame as the hometown of Vito Corleone, the fictional New York mafia don portrayed by Marlon Brando and Robert de Niro in Coppola's films based on Mario Puzo's novel.

Despite its long association with organised crime, it is the first time the council in Corleone has been dissolved on the orders of the central government under a procedure that has been applied to more than 200 Italian municipal authorities since the early 1990s.

Orders placing Corleone and three other southern Italian towns under the control of government-appointed commissioners pending fresh elections were approved by Italy's centre-left government late on Wednesday.

In Corleone's case, the move follows an Interior Ministry inspection launched in June that uncovered evidence of relatives of mafia figures being hired by the council and anomalies in the running of a municipal dairy.

The probe was triggered by a long-running criminal investigation into a previous administration's award of a contract for a new public building in the town.

Corleone was the birthplace of Bernardo Provenzano and Salvatore "Toto" Riina, the mobsters who emerged from a bloody turf war in the 1980s as the undisputed bosses of Cosa Nostra.

After decades on the run, both men finally ended up behind bars serving sentences for multiple murders. Provenzano, 83, died in a prison hospital last month.

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The other towns where councils were dissolved were Arzano, located in the heartland of the Neapolitan mafia, the Camorra, and Bovalino and Tropea.

The latter two are both in Calabria, the base for the 'Ndrangheta group - now regarded as Europe's most powerful and wealthy crime syndicate thanks to its central role in the global cocaine trade.

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