Italy has strict restrictions at the moment against public gatherings which is why Italian prosecutors are investigating the funeral of the brother of an ex-Sicilian mafia boss during the lockdown.
Photographs emerged of a funeral procession in the Sicilian town of Messina which was attended by dozens of people. Family and friends accompanied the coffin of Rosario Sparacio, 70 the older brother of Luigi Sparacio, considered one of the most important bosses of the Cosa Nostra in the 1990s but who eventually turned into a rat.
As news of the funeral and the number of people who attended it spread, it has created anger around Italy where, since the beginning of March, the government has banned all gatherings, including funerals.
Tensions in Italy are running very thin as the news that in some of the hardest-hit areas coffins are being piled up in churches awaiting burial and people who have died at home are being kept in closed rooms as they wait days for them to be picked up.
The president of Sicily’s anti-mafia commission, Claudio Fava said: “While in Italy there are no funerals and weddings how is it possible that in Messina dozens of people accompanied the dead body of the brother of a Mafia boss to the cemetery?”
The brother of the deceased, Luigi Sparacio, was once revered as the most powerful mafioso in eastern Sicily and was extremely close to the Sicilian boss of bosses Benedetto “Nitto” Santapaola.
The criticism of the funeral has not been without pushback from Sparacio’s family. On Facebook, one relative wrote “You must leave us alone in our pain, we have not taken anything from anyone. We are good people. If we really were those mafia bosses you proclaim so much, you wouldn’t dare to attack us.”
Today, Luigi Sparacio’s lawyer Piera Basile, sent a letter to Italian newspapers warning them against exploiting his client for the events related to his brother’s funeral.
Translated from Italian: (not always easy with legal letters!)
”The undersigned, Attorney Piera Basile, as defender of Mr. Luigi Sparacio, formulates the present to mean the following.
My client came to know, through the press, of the scandal triggered by the news of the funeral of his brother Rosario celebrated in Messina on 11 April, 2020.
Now, without going into the merits of what happened because of the verification of the events that occurred the people responsible for this which are already investigating, hereby it is intended to mean, in the name and on behalf of the client, the following.
Since 1994, my client started to serve his penalty for committed crimes, therefore it is not clear why his name is being exploited also in light of the circumstance that for more than twenty years he has not returned to Sicilia.
Hereby, therefore, in full respect of the right of freedom of the press established by art. 21 of the Constitution and of the very important social function exercised by journalists, on behalf of his client the undersigned defender asks that they are not made instrumentalizations by combining what happened in Messina during the funeral of Mr. Sparacio Rosario with the past procedural history of Mr. Luigi Sparacio.
Bringing back the thoughts of my client, the juxtaposition of the events that occurred to the past trial history could trigger political instrumentalizations, restarting perverse mechanisms as already happened in illo tempore (Case Messina, Verminaio dello Stretto).
Finally, considering that Mr. Sparacio Luigi has almost finished serving the sentence imposed thus paying his debt and also noting that he has not been recently involved in judicial investigations that ascertained the continuation of his role as chief mafia, the SS.LL. not wanting to point him out as if he were still a mobster, also in order not to want to brand for life a person who has certainly made a mistake in the past, but who has started a new path of life ”.
It looks like he’s making sure that nothing stands in his way of making a fresh start when he is released from prison. The investigation into the funeral and subsequent illegal gathering continues.