Dozens of Mafiosi may be released from prison in Italy over fears they may catch the coronavirus.
Cosa Nostra boss Francesco Bonuro, 78, was ordered released by a Milan judge and to continue serving his sentence at home. He was arrested in 2006 and was sentenced to 18 years 8 months in 2012 as part of the landmark Maxi trial.
Head of the Lamezia Terme Clan, Vincenzino Iannazzo, 65, was also released and placed on house arrest. He is serving a 14-year sentence.
Just last week Bonnano crime family capo Vincent Asaro was released from prison due to health concerns.
These were not easy decisions for the judges but they carefully weighed up the chances of them escaping. In my opinion, I would say that’s pretty high but the judges don’t seem to think so.
Secretary-general of the largest prison union in Italy, Osapp, said ‘Members of the penitentiary police have begun reporting detainees who embrace each other with the alleged goal of increasing the possibility of contracting the virus and getting released from prison.’
There are currently 74 high profile Mafiosi in the Italian prison system whose ages and health conditions make them highly susceptible to serious complications should they become infected. These include bosses from the Bellocco clan, ‘Ndrangheta and the Sicilian ‘boss of bosses’ Nitto Santapaola.
Italian Justice Minister Alfonso Bonafede said that the government had not approved the releases.
Lirio Abbate, a journalist and national editor of L’Espresso said ‘The risk is that we’ll find the mafia virus on the streets alongside Covid-19. It would be a double pandemic that we mustn’t allow to happen.’
A few days earlier, author Roberto Saviano, who wrote the script for the Italian mafia drama Gomorrah, said that the Mafia is taking advantage of the current health crisis. They are offering interest-free loans to desperate Italians only to be able to control people’s lives during and after the pandemic.
Saviano also said that the Mafia is even handing out groceries to the very poorest Italians only to be ‘owed a favor’ once the crisis is over. He also said that the Mafia is ready to snatch up struggling and failing businesses of which there will be many after this crisis.
Since the release of his crime drama, Saviano has been under police protection in New York. He is an expert on the workings of the mafia and how they have expanded beyond drugs and illegal activity by strong-arming their way into otherwise legitimate businesses around the world.
Now his fears are being realized and backed up by anti-mafia investigators and politicians as the virus devastates Italy.
Earlier this month, Pope Francis also joined the rhetoric against ‘the Mafiosi and the loan sharks’ who are exploiting the pandemic and the suffering of the Italian people and Italy itself just for a quick profit.