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CRIME

Italian police arrest man for poisoning family with thallium

Italian police said on Thursday they arrested a man who used thallium, found in rat poison, to murder two grandparents and an aunt because he claimed they were "unclean".

Italian police arrest man for poisoning family with thallium
Photo: Vir4ello/Depositphotos

Maria Luisa Zanetti, the prosecutor from the northern town of Monza just north of Milan, told reporters that 27-year-old Mattia Del Zotto said he killed them and used the poison on another five relatives “to punish unclean people”.

Del Zotto bought the thallium from a company in Padua near Venice, and sprinkled the toxic chemical in the drinks and dishes of his family members.

His paternal grandparents, aged 94 and 88, and a 62-year-old aunt died in October after ingesting the poison at the start of the month.

He then tried to poison other relatives. Five others, including his maternal grandparents, have been hospitalized in the past weeks.

Police were able to apprehend del Zotto thanks to an email on his computer quoting the poison's price as well as tax and shipping rates, investigators said.

His mother told investigators del Zotto had become “manic”. He spent his days in front of his computer and had stopped eating sweets and drinking alcohol, saying people were only allowed to consume “vital” things.

Thallium, a soft metal, has long been used as a murder weapon as it dissolves in water and is odourless and tasteless.

CRIME

Italy remembers murdered anti-mafia judge Falcone

Italy commemorated the death of Italian judge Giovanni Falcone on Monday, thirty years after the brutal Capaci bombing.

Italy remembers murdered anti-mafia judge Falcone

The entire country paid tribute on Monday to anti-mafia judge Giovanni Falcone, killed by the Sicilian mafia 30 years ago in a car bomb murder that shocked the country.

Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese laid a wreath at the memorial at the site of the blast at Capaci, near Palermo, that killed Falcone, his wife, and three members of his police escort on May 23rd 1992.

Another ceremony in Palermo was attended by Italian President Sergio Mattarella, whose brother Piersanti, then Sicily’s regional president, was also murdered by the mafia.

In a statement, Prime Minister Mario Draghi hailed the legacy of Falcone, saying that thanks to his “courage, professionalism and determination, Italy has become a freer and fairer country”.

He said Falcone and his colleagues – one of whom, Paolo Borsellino, was killed by Cosa Nostra two months later – “dealt decisive blows against the mafia”.

“Their heroism had rooted anti-mafia values in society, in new generations, in republican institutions,” he added, saying the “relentless fight against organised crime and […] the search for truth” must continue.

The mob used a skateboard to place a 500-kilogramme (1100-pound) charge of TNT and ammonium nitrate in a tunnel under the motorway which linked the airport to the centre of Palermo.

Falcone, driving a white Fiat Croma, was returning from Rome for the weekend. At a look-out point on the hill above, a mobster nicknamed “The Pig” pressed the remote control button as the judge’s three-car convoy passed.

The blast ripped through the asphalt, shredding bodies and metal, and flinging the lead car several hundred metres.

READ ALSO: How murdered judge Giovanni Falcone shaped Italy’s fight against the mafia

On July 19th, Borsellino was also killed in a car bomb attack, along with five members of his escort. Only his driver survived.

Falcone posed a real threat to Cosa Nostra, an organised crime group made famous by The Godfather trilogy, and which boasted access to the highest levels of Italian power.

He and Borsellino were later credited with revolutionising the understanding of the mafia, working closely with the first informants and compiling evidence for a groundbreaking ‘maxi-trial’ in which hundreds of mobsters were convicted in 1987.

“Thanks to Falcone and Borsellino, the Sicilian mafia became a notorious fact, not something that had to be proved to exist at every trial,” anti-mafia prosecutor Marzia Sabella told AFP.

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