Berlusconi blames author for giving publicity to mafia

April 17th, 2010 - 1:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Rome, April 17 (IANS/AKI) Italy’s Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has accused best-selling author Roberto Saviano of giving the mafia “publicity”.
He also blamed the popular Italian TV series ‘La Piovra’ for spreading interest in the mafia worldwide.

“We need only recall that the eight series of ‘La Piovra’ have been aired in 160 countries, as well as the raft of books published on the mafia, such as ‘Gomorrah’,” Berlusconi said Friday.

Saviano, who lives in hiding under police protection, wrote a highly successful book on the Neapolitan mafia, “Gomorrah” which was also made into an award-winning film with the same name.

“The Italian mafia is the world’s sixth largest, but, oddly enough, it is the most famous and gives Italy a very negative image, thanks to the publicity it has received,” Berlusconi added.

He was presenting to journalists the results of the conservative Italian government’s crackdown against organised crime since it took office in May 2008, together with Italy’s Interior Minister Roberto Maroni and Justice Minister Angelino Alfano.

A total 23 out of the 30 most wanted mafia fugitives have been arrested since the government took office, Maroni said.

“The mafia is much more afraid of harsh prison terms and legislation than intellectual debate. This is why the present government has implemented concrete anti-mafia measures,” said Alfano.

But centre-left opposition politicians said they deplored Berlusconi’s comments on Saviano.

“There’s a disturbing implication here: if we keep quiet about the mafia we can pretend it doesn’t exist,” said opposition Democratic Party chief whip in the upper house of parliament, Anna Finocchiaro.

“Berlusconi should apologise to Saviano, who risks his life by speaking out,” said opposition Italy of Values party leader and former prosecuting magistrate Antonio Di Pietro.

–IANS/AKI

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