TT Epaper
The Telegraph
Graphiti
 
CIMA Gallary

Pope visits Mafia town to mourn baby’s death

Cassano All’ Jonio (Italy), June 21 (Reuters): Pope Francis, visiting a stronghold of one of Italy’s most dangerous crime groups, today comforted the jailed father of a three-year-old boy killed in an ambush and condemned mob violence against children.

Francis flew by helicopter to the town of Cassano All’ Jonio in the southern Calabria region, home of the mafia-style ‘Ndrangheta which investigators say has spread around the world.

The pope made the trip in part to pay tribute Nicola “Coco” Campolongo, who was killed in the town along with his grandfather in an organised crime attack last January.

The charred body of the boy, who had been entrusted to his grandfather Giuseppe Iannicelli after his parents were jailed on drugs charges, were found along with those of Iannicelli and a Moroccan woman in a burnt-out car in the town.

Francis, who last January strongly denounced the murder and asked the killers to repent, comforted the boy’s father and other relatives during a meeting a Vatican spokesman called highly emotional. “Never again violence against children. May a child never again have to suffer like this. I pray for him continuously. Do not despair,” the spokesman quoted the pope as saying.

The boy’s parents and grandfather were part of a drugs trafficking clan of the ‘Ndrangheta. Social workers have come under criticism for entrusting the boy to his maternal grandfather, a convicted drugs runner who was out on bail.

The crime group has been much harder for investigators to combat than the Sicilian Mafia because its structure is more lateral than hierarchical and its tightly-knit crime families are less flashy than the Sicilian mob and harder to penetrate.

A 2013 study by Demoskopia, an economic and social research institute, estimated the ‘Ndrangheta’s annual turnover at some 53 billion euros ($72 billion) in 30 countries, equivalent to about 3.5 per cent of Italy’s total official economic output. Around half of its revenues came through drug trafficking.

 
 
" "