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Italy's anti-corruption chiefs slam politicians for ‘not paying attention’ to mafia problem

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Italy's anti-corruption chiefs slam politicians for ‘not paying attention’ to mafia problem
Italian police standing guard during an antimafia operation. Photo: Marcello Paternostro/AFP
15:30 CEST+02:00
Tax amnesties ‘help mafia’ and ministers aren’t addressing Italy’s problems with organised crime and corruption, say anti-mafia prosecutors.

With Italy’s top government ministers firmly focused on immigration and Europe, there are growing fears that organised crime in the country is being allowed to flourish.

National Anti-mafia Prosecutor Federico Cafiero De Raho said on Wednesday that the political world was not paying attention to the organised crime “emergency” in Italy.

"The political world postpones addressing these problems and many others, but when there is corruption and the mafia, the economy sinks," De Raho said.

"This is the worst aspect of the period that the country is going through. There’s not enough attention paid to these emergencies".

De Raho was also critical of tax amnesties, saying they "help those who operate illegally, above all the mafia organizations".

Critics of the government have said its 'fiscal peace' plan amounts to an amnesty which proves very useful for organised criminal gangs.

Ministers said the plan was intended to help people close disputes with the tax authorities so they can start afresh – and hopefully pay their taxes in future. The measure is part of the controversial new ‘people’s budget’ unveiled this week.

Italy's deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio yesterday accused an unknown adversary of having tampered with the country's budget by secretly adding measures, after the document had been given cabinet approval, to add "protection from punishment for evaders,"

Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

De Raho's statement was echoed by Raffaele Cantone, the head of anti-corruption authority ANAC.

"Amnesties do not help confidence, especially when more or less every year these amnesties are repeated, just changing the name, as if this were enough to hide them," Cantone said.

In August, co-deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said he intended to 'eradicate' mafia networks exploiting foreign agricultural workers by "all means legally available."

But a heavy focus on immigration and frequent spats with Brussels have left the issue of organised crime out of the spotlight since the government came into power in May this year.

Politicians themselves, particularly local officials, are believed to be at high risk of violence from mafia seeking to influence politics.

According to the country's first-ever comprehensive survey on political violence, there were 1,191 violent attacks against politicians between 2013 and 2015.

Spada family members convicted

Meanwhile, a court in Rome today found three members of the Ostia-based Spada crime family guilty of mafia association - officially recognising the family’s affiliation for the first time.

Massimiliano Spada and Massimo Massimiani, aka Lelli, each got 10 years and eight months in jail, while Claudio Galatioto got nine years.

The three were arrested in January as part of a huge police operation in Rome that led to 32 arrests, for crimes ranging from mafia association to extortion.

Massimiliano Spada is a close relative of Roberto Spada, the owner of an Ostia gym, who was given a six-year sentence this June after assaulting RAI journalist Daniele Piervincenzi.

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