Five ways to fight the mafia

By AFP/Fanny Carrier   November 25, 2017 | 10:01 am GMT+7
Five ways to fight the mafia
A picture taken on March 8, 1993 shows mafia boss Salvatore 'Toto' Riina during his trial at the high security prison Ucciardone in Palermo. Former 'boss of bosses' Toto Riina, one of the most feared Godfathers in the history of the Sicilian Mafia, died early on November 17, 2017 after battling cancer, according to Italian media reports. Riina, 87, who had been serving 26 life sentences and is thought to have ordered more than 150 murders, had been in a coma and his family had been given permission by Italy's health ministry Thursday for a rare visit to say goodbye. Photo by AFP/Alessandro Fucarini

Fearful of losing an uphill battle against the Italian mafia despite a ferocious 25-year fight, key figures in Italy's judiciary have called for anti-mafia hunters to think outside the box.

The legislation in place is harsh but effective -- the problem is a "mafia culture" which has infected society, they say.

Here are five suggestions for winning the war:

Make ordinary citizens heroes

Pier Paolo Farina, a young sociologist and founder of the Wikimafia news site, said "all the mafia fight needs is for everyone to be aware of the issue and do their jobs," from minor officials to political leaders.

"We no longer need heroes but citizens who do their duty and respect the laws because they are aware of the value of legality," said Rosy Bindi, the head of parliament's anti-mafia committee.

Combat poverty

The mafia thrives by stepping in where the state is failing, offering security, employment, housing and even rubbish collection. New recruits in poor areas often feel a life in crime would give them a future the state cannot.

"As long as there is no Marshall Plan for the (poor) south," there will be room for organized crime, Palermo prosecutor Roberto Scarpinato said.

Take the fight abroad

Italy's mafias have business ties everywhere there is a strong expat presence -- from European countries to North and South America and Australia.

Prosecutor Nicola Gratteri said Italy must push for greater international coordination and draw up more bilateral agreements. "We signed one with Colombia, but you can not imagine what the 'Ndrangheta is doing in Peru."

Rally the troops

Pietro Grasso, a longtime anti-mafia magistrate, called on Italy to draw on the network of anti-organized crime groups that have been valiantly drumming up resistance for the past 25 years and "which show that another way is possible".

'Don't change laws'

"I would be grateful if this parliament and the next did not change the law on the mafia," Rome prosecutor Giuseppe Pignatone told a major two-day conference on the fight against organized crime in Milan.

Prosecutors up and down the country fighting the 'Ndrangheta (based in Calabria in Italy's deep south), the Camorra (Naples), Cosa Nostra (Sicily) and Sacra Corona Unita (Puglia), say each tweak to the law slows their work, he said.

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