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CRIME

Italian girl, 15, dead after being shot while walking to school

A 15-year-old Italian girl died on Thursday morning after she was shot in the face on her way to school.

Italian girl, 15, dead after being shot while walking to school
File photo of a street in central Foggia: Barambani/Wikimedia

The girl was shot at around 7am on Wednesday morning and died in hospital 24 hours later, after several cardiac arrests. Her presumed attacker has also been found dead.

The attack took place in a central street of Ischitella in Foggia in the southern Puglia region as the 15-year-old was walking to her bus stop.

Dozens of police officers and a helicopter were involved in a search for the suspected attacker on Wednesday afternoon, and an arrest warrant was issued against the ex-partner of the girl's mother, aged 37.

But the suspect was found dead in nearby countryside 12 hours after the crime, having apparently killed himself using the same weapon he turned on the girl, regional paper Foggia Today reported, citing initial police reports.

The victim's mother had reported her ex-partner to police twice, the most recent occasion just two weeks ago, after she claimed he had threatened her daughter. The girl was in the care of her grandparents and social services were in contact with the family.

Writing in a Facebook post, the girl's mother wrote: “I had warned that something would happen, but no-one believed me.”

She had written just the previous day that it had been exactly a month since leaving the relationship, which she described as “a prison where I no longer knew if I could see the sun, if I could breathe, if I was myself”.

Italy's interior minister, Marco Minniti, said in August that extra units of special investigators from Italy's top security agencies would be relocated to Foggia following four daylight shootings linked to the local mafia.

Meanwhile, the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Laura Boldrini, on Tuesday called for more robust laws to protect women who are victims of gendered violence following a series of reports of violent assaults across the country in recent weeks.

 

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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