Mafia boss and two innocent bystanders killed in ambush

The assassination of a mafia boss and two innocent bystanders in broad daylight in Puglia has reopened old wounds in the region.

Mafia boss and two innocent bystanders killed in ambush
File photo: chiccododiFC/Depositphotos

Police have been called to the scene of the crime where reportedly multiple unidentified gunmen have shot and killed four people. At least one further person is injured. The incident occurred on Road 272 near the train station of San Marco in Lamis. 

Police are not excluding that the killings are linked to two murders in the nearby area of Apricena in June this year. 

Il Fatto Quotidiano cited unnamed sources who say investigators believe the ambush could be revenge for an earlier killing this year, part of a mafia war between rival clans that has claimed 15 lives so far in 2017. 

The victims were traveling in a Wolkswagen that was accosted by another car. Four or five gunmen opened fire on the Wolkswagen, according to Repubblica, Italy's largest daily.

Repubblica adds that the ambush took the life of clan leader Mario Luciano Romito, 50. Romito's driver and brother-in-law Matteo de Palma was also killed, as were two unfortunate innocent bystanders – brothers Luigi and Aurelio Luciani. 

The mayor of San Marco in Lamis, Michele Merla, condemned the senseless violence. “The community mourns two honest workers, innocent victims of an evil, outrageous war, that is not afraid of anything or anyone,” said Merla, according to Foggia Today, a regional newspaper.

Merla called the violent crime in the region “a national emergency” and appealed to the Ministry of Interior Affairs for extra support. 

One of the two Luciani brothers tried to escape through a field but was chased and killed by the assassin, according to la Stampa. The killer has not been caught. 

La Stampa reports that the killings are part of an ongoing conflict between two warring families: the Romito and the Libergolis clans.

READ MORE: Fugitive mafia boss busted at Tuscany balcony barbecue



New York returns millions worth of stolen art to Italy

Prosecutors in New York on Tuesday returned dozens of antiquities stolen from Italy and valued at around $19 million, some of which were found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

New York returns millions worth of stolen art to Italy

“These 58 pieces represent thousands of years of rich history, yet traffickers throughout Italy utilized looters to steal these items and to line their own pockets,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, noting that it was the third such repatriation in nine months.

“For far too long, they have sat in museums, homes, and galleries that had no rightful claim to their ownership,” he said at a ceremony attended by Italian diplomats and law enforcement officials.

The stolen items had been sold to Michael Steinhardt, one of the world’s leading collectors of ancient art, the DA’s office said, adding that he had been slapped with a “first-of-its-kind lifetime ban on acquiring antiquities.”


Among the recovered treasures, which in some cases were sold to “unwitting collectors and museums,” were a marble head of the Greek goddess Athena from 200 B.C.E. and a drinking cup dating back to 470 B.C.E, officials said.

The pieces were stolen at the behest of four men who “all led highly lucrative criminal enterprises – often in competition with one another – where they would use local looters to raid archaeological sites throughout Italy, many of which were insufficiently guarded,” the DA’s office said.

One of them, Pasquale Camera, was “a regional crime boss who organized thefts from museums and churches as early as the 1960s. He then began purchasing stolen artifacts from local looters and sold them to antiquities dealers,” it added.

It said that this year alone, the DA’s office has “returned nearly 300 antiquities valued at over $66 million to 12 countries.”