Italian mafia on its knees, says minister

December 10th, 2009 - 1:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Rome, Dec 10 (IANS/AKI) The conservative Italian government has brought the mafia “to its knees”, Italy’s justice minister Angelino said while urging prosecutors to work even harder to defeat it.
His comments followed the arrest Saturday of the Sicilian mafia’s alleged second-in-command, Giovanni Nicchi, and and another top mafia boss, Gaetano Fidanzati.

“The mafia is now on its knees, its historic leaders are all in high-security prisons, its rising stars have already fizzled out. Now we want to deal the killing blow and free ourselves from the mafia as soon as possible,” Alfano told journalists Wednesday in the the Italian capital, Rome.

“Thanks to the anti-mafia laws passed under this government, we are living in one of the most glorious seasons since the Italian state’s open fight against the mafia began,” he said.

Alfano was presenting the results of the government’s anti-mafia activities at the Italian Senate or upper house of parliament together with Interior Minister Roberto Maroni.

Nicchi’s arrest last Saturday made world headlines. Hooded members of the Palermo police department’s elite squad were seen leading a handcuffed Nicchi away from an apartment building close to Palermo’s law courts amid cheering crowds.

But Alfano urged anti-mafia magistrates to work harder.

“Do more work - organised crime can be beaten without basking in coverage from all the national TV networks,” he said. “That’s the way to arrest more fugitives.”

The government’s first 18 months in office has seen 21 out of the 30 most dangerous mafia fugitives arrested, twice as many as during the centre-left government, Maroni told journalists.

A total 299 mafia fugitives have been arrested - 83 percent more than during the previous government, Maroni said.

Suspected mafia assets worth 6.2 billion euros were seized and 1.8 billion euros of mafia assets were expropriated - a 328 percent increase compared with the previous government, Maroni noted.

Fidanzati Wednesday appeared in court in Palermo but availed himself of the right to silence. He was arrested in the northern city of Milan last Saturday.

–IANS/AKI

rd/mj

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