MS Risk Blog

Coronavirus Pandemic as a Get-Out-of-Jail Card for Italian Mafia

Posted on in Uncategorized title_rule

The coronavirus pandemic has turned the world upside down. Massive concerns rise in regards to how to deal with the new normalcy of everyday life. Due to this pandemic, prisons all over the world have become a hotspot for the spread of coronavirus due to the close living proximity experienced by inmates. Measures have been taken all over the world to prevent this, for instance, the Italian government has allowed several inmates over the age of 70 to be transferred from prison to house arrest. In Italy, where an extraordinary number of inmates are connected to the mafia, the government decision in regards to this measure has led to the release of several notorious crime bosses. This will be seen by the mafia as a loophole to be exploited. Due to this new policy, as many as 70 mafia bosses may be eligible to be transferred to the house arrest. There are some who have already been transferred, including Francesco Bonura. Francesco Bonura is 78 years old mafia boss who served eight years of the 23-year sentence imposed on him for racketeering and cocaine trafficking in a case involving other top Sicilian bosses in 2012. In the 1990s, Bonura got off on a technicality in a case in which authorities charged him with five murders. He is still considered as the head of the Uditore crime family of Sicily. Another crime boss who has been transferred from prison to house arrest is Vincenzino Iannazzo. He is the boss of the Ndrangheta crime family from the southern province of Calabria. Iannazzo’s case is more interesting because he is only 65 years old and should not be eligible for the transfer. However, his lawyer convinced a judge to transfer him to house arrest, even though he is younger than 70, claiming he was at risk to the virus based on his gender and age.

This particular decision has drawn much criticism from the public element. Several prosecutors and investigators have been known to state harsh criticism, saying that releasing mafia bosses will allow them to return to their home turf and reinforce their control over affiliates and local businesses, even if they were under house arrest. Italy’s anti-mafia Chief Prosecutor, Federico Cafiero de Raho, stated that it is particularly odd to have let out those serving time under the country’s harsh prison isolation regime. He also emphasized that the government seems to be carried away with panic while thermal scanners should be enough to treat these mafia bosses rather than transferring them to house confinement. The Mayor of Palermo, Leoluca Orlando, also stated his criticism by saying that these crime bosses can do anything they want if they are being released, including rebuilding their illegal business merely by giving orders to the members of the crime family. From a political point of view, this decision has been seen as a blunder produced by the incumbent left-wing government and created ammunition for the right-wing opposition. Prosecutors, victims’ groups and opposition parties have heaped blame on Justice Minister, Alfonso Bonafede. Far-right League leader, Matteo Salvini, has in particular been beating the drum by calling for a vote of no-confidence towards Bonafede.

The coronavirus pandemic might force the government to enact some unusual measures. However, putting mafia bosses back to their home turf is seen as an act of betrayal and disrespect towards the public and victims of mafia’s brutality, since the country has a long history with many violence conducted by the mafia. During this crisis, it is very possible for mafia organizations to furtherly infiltrate the economic life of Italy’s citizens, especially during this period of financial difficulties. Furthermore, returning mafia bosses to their home turf where it would be more difficult to monitor their communication with the outside world, would be seen as sending a message of weakness which could be exploited by the Mafia. It could also indicate that the Italian government is easing its approach in regards to fighting organized crime in the country.