Italian mafias' dislike for their confiscated properties
Last Friday night vandals have demolished a newly-confiscated facility in Borgo Sabotino, a small town 70 Km south of Rome. No big deal if the property was not a former organized crime building.
Last Friday night vandals have demolished a newly-confiscated facility in Borgo Sabotino, a small town in the province of Latina, 70 Km south of Rome. No big deal if the property was not a former organized crime building, where mafia affiliates ran their dirty businesses and laundered money.
The complex lays on a 4 hectars land that was seized from local organized crime syndicates for unauthorized building, one of the plagues of Italy and one of many ways for mafias to launder their profits. After the seizure, the local Prefect gave his go to the management of the area to Libera, a nation-wide association for the social fight against organized crime.
Libera turned the facility into the “Villaggio della Legalità” (village of legality), where associations, youth movements and NGOs meet and build processes based on democracy, social justice and legality. One of many places around Italy that raise awareness about organized crime, allow young people to engage in social projects and activities. Nearly 700 are the properties confiscated to organized crime syndicates in Italy that run projects for social purposes, a measure made possible by a law that went into force in 1996.
Vandals broke in and destroyed windows, doors, computers, tables, desks, sound and video equipments of the Villaggio della Legalità. The act is clearly a threatening measure by local criminals in disrespect for the activities that Libera runs in the facility that once belonged to them. Similar acts occur on a weekly basis all over the country. President of Libera Luigi Ciotti on Saturday morning said: «It's a vile act that damages a confiscated facility where Libera has been running an enhancing project together with the local community. Nobody will ever be able to stop our commitment. With fatigue, passion and sense of responsability many territories all over the country say no the mafias, just like here».
Confiscate first, then re-use
Confiscation of criminal assets is a procedure in place in Italy since 1982, esplicitaly mentioned within the law named “Rognoni – La Torre”. Pio La Torre was a leader of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) killed in Palermo in 1982. La Torre was particularly active in promoting at parliamentary level innovative countermeasures for the fight against mafias. His commitment brought him and his driver to a harsh death on April 30, 1982, their bodies hit by a hail of bullets in their car.
A few days after the assassination of General Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa in September 3, 1982, Italian Parliament adopted the law La Torre initiated in a rush together with other emergency measures against the Mafia. The new law foresaw two fundamental innovations: 1) the introduction in the Italian penal system of the crime of “mafia conspiracy”, 2) the possibility for the courts to seize and confiscate the goods of the persons belonging to the “mafia conspiracy”, as well as the ones of their relatives and affiliates. No other country in the world can count on such efficient legislative tools against organized crime.
The early 90s saw a rise of killings again in the fight of the State against mafias as well as internal feuds within crime syndicates. After the assassinations of antimafia judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, respectively in May 23 and July 19 1992, a national civic movement shook the country. The association Libera was founded, counting on the affiliation of several thousands people, among which regular citizens, police officers, lawyers, social workers, politicians, youth associations. All layers of Italian society had representatives. The very first act of Libera was to collect signatures from citizens all over the country in order to enhance the “Rognoni – La Torre” law: to allow the State to assign confiscated good for social purposes. In a matter of just few months over one million signatures were collected. The will of Libera, led by father Luigi Ciotti, became reality in 1996.
Over 600 properties are now used for promoting social projects throughout the country. Shelters, youth hostels, cooperatives, fruit and vegetables lands return today dignity to territories that are highly infiltrated by organized crime. The promotion of employment, of sustainable products, values such as democracy, civic justice, legality, respect of the rule of law are the ground on which these places are built.
Antimafia national prosecutor Piero Grasso, joining a training for judicial officials in Palermo last March, said: «To seize and confiscate properties is a duty of police forces and judiciary, so to undermine mafias' financial power. The social use of the same properties, instead, weakens their social consensus».