Italian mafia clans contact jailed mobsters via TV show

August 23rd, 2010 - 2:42 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Aug 23 (IANS) Criminals have been using a popular football show aired on an Italian television to exchange coded mobile text messages with their jailed cronies, a media report said here Monday.
Imprisoned crime bosses were kept up to date through mobile phone texts sent to the show, Quelli Che il Calcio, which unwittingly scrolled them across the bottom of the screen among innocent messages from supporters of Italian football teams.

Simona Ventura, the presenter of the show, said the producers were unaware of the ruse and would stop airing texts immediately, The Guardian reported.

“The show has always had universal appeal, from the young, to graduates, to the old, and now, I discover, mob bosses and their families too,” she said.

Carlo Vizzini, an Italian senator, demanded to know why mafia inmates were allowed to watch Quelli Che il Calcio, which loosely translates as “Those Who Play Football”.

“I do not understand why people held under such conditions can watch programmes in which the TV audience can participate,” he said.

Enzo Macri, a magistrate, tipped off after a letter advising a jailed boss to watch the show was intercepted, cited one of the texts, “Everything is OK - Paolo”, as being sent by a clan affiliate.

Jailed mobsters have few, carefully supervised contacts with the outside world, thanks to Italy’s tough prison regime designed to stop them keeping control of their nexus.

Earlier, investigators have discovered that greetings sent by gangsters to their family members were coded orders to carry out murders. Prisoners allowed to meet their families have also been caught stuffing their children’s pockets with messages while hugging them.

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