Families demand justice as 50,000 march against Italian mafia

On a national day of remembrance, hundreds of bereaved relatives joined a march that culminated in front of Milan's Duomo cathedral, some carrying photos of their dead loved ones - and many still waiting for justice.

Families demand justice as 50,000 march against Italian mafia
Students hold placards reeading "memory, honesty, beauty, friendship, solidarity" at a demonstration against mafia violence at Piazza Duomo in central Milan. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)

Two months after the arrest of Italy’s most-wanted mob boss shone a spotlight on the mafia, more than 50,000 people marched on Tuesday in Milan to remember their victims.

“It will be 28 years at the end of this month, and we are still searching for the truth,” said Paolo Marcone, 50, whose father was killed in 1995 by the mafia in Foggia, in Italy’s southeastern region of Puglia.

READ ALSO: ‘Very violent’: How Italy’s youngest mafia is terrorising the Puglia region

Francesco Marcone, a local official, had just returned home from work when he was shot in the back.

“Dad died on the stairs of the house. My sister found the body,” his son recalled.

The family believes he discovered something at work that he should not have, but “sadly the truth has not come out”, Paolo Marcone told AFP.

READ ALSO: Ruthless Sicilian mafia boss Messina Denaro’s reign of terror

“We need these days to keep the memories alive and at the same time to keep calling for justice and truth,” he said.

After all this time, “we are a bit disappointed and tired, but we never lose hope”.

Relatives of mafia victims held their photos during the demonstration in Milan. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)

Police estimated the size of the crowd at 50,000 in Milan where, at the foot of the Duomo, a white sheet was laid out bearing the names of 1,069 victims.

Elisabetta Di Caterina, 52, joined the march in memory of her brother-in-law, Riccardo Angelo. She said he was killed in an ambush by the Camorra mafia in 1991 outside of Caserta, near Naples. He was 21.

The killer was caught and died in prison, she said, but added: “We ask for justice and the truth for all the families who are still waiting.”

Vincenzo Luciano, 55, lost his two brothers, Aurelio and Luigi, to the Foggia mafia in 2017, who “found themselves in the middle of a shoot-out”.

“It took the deaths of another two innocent people for the state to wake up and understand that the mafia was here,” he told AFP.

The Foggia mafia is considered Italy’s newest and most violent organised crime syndicate.

The event comes after the arrest in January of fugitive Matteo Messina Denaro, a Sicilian mob boss implicated in some of the Cosa Nostra’s most heinous crimes, after 30 years on the run.

This is the 28th year that Italy has celebrated its national day of remembrance for mafia victims.

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‘Serious design flaw’: Ex-official says risk of Genoa bridge collapse was known

A former director of the group with ultimate responsibility for Italy's Genoa bridge has said it knew of the dangers eight years before the highway collapsed in 2018, killing 43 people.

‘Serious design flaw’: Ex-official says risk of Genoa bridge collapse was known

In 2010 Gianni Mion was managing director of the Benetton family’s holding group, Edizione, which owned Autostrade per l’Italia (Aspi), the company paid by the state to manage the Morandi bridge.

“In a meeting between managers and executives, doubts arose about whether the Morandi bridge could remain standing, due to a serious design flaw,” Mion told a court in Genoa on Monday at a trial hearing.

READ ALSO: Genoa bridge collapse: 59 people to stand trial over disaster as operator settles

“I asked if there was a third party that certified the stability of the viaduct. They told me that we self-certified it. That answer terrified me,” he said, according to Italian news agency reports.

“Nobody thought, though, that it would collapse and we were reassured on that point. I didn’t say anything but I was worried. I didn’t do anything and that’s my big regret,” Mion was quoted as saying.

Nearly 60 defendants went on trial in Genoa in July last year, accused of manslaughter and undermining transport safety over the collapse of the bridge in the northwest Italian city.

The Morandi bridge gave way in torrential rain on August 14, 2018, sending dozens of vehicles and their passengers tumbling into the abyss.

Egle Possetti, who heads a committee of victims’ relatives, said it was “unacceptable” for someone of Mion’s position to have remained silent.

Egle Possetti (C), at the first hearing of the Morandi bridge collapse trial on 7 July, 2022.

Egle Possetti (C), at the first hearing of the Morandi bridge collapse trial on 7 July, 2022. Photo by Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP.

Those on trial include the general manager of Autostrade at the time, Giovanni Castellucci, and Antonino Galata, the former head of Spea, the engineering company in charge of maintenance.

Roberto Tomasi, who took over as general manager of Autostrade in 2019, told the court on Monday that “the level of network degradation was substantially worse than Spea’s inspections stated”.

READ ALSO: ‘The sadness is unending’: Italian families’ pain still raw ahead of Genoa bridge trial

He said Spea was not considered to be “reliable” and “the behaviour of some of its employees was unacceptable”.

Even though their former directors are on trial, Autostrade and Spea will escape the courts, thanks to an out-of-court settlement with the public prosecutor’s office, which provides for a payment of 29 million euros ($30 million) to the state.