Sicilian mafia bosses sentenced to 600 years for looting EU funds

The Nebrodi godfathers have long been known to plunder EU funds – now a major source of income for the Italian mafia.

On Monday evening, the court in Patti presided over by Ugo Scavuzzo condemned 91 of the 101 members of “Bontempo Scavo” and the “Batanesi”two historic gangs from Tortorici, to a combined total of 600 years in prison following a trial supervised by the magistrates of the Messina prosecutor’s office.

A blitz of the carabinieri and the financial police, triggered in January 2020, revealed a complex system of companies set up by the bosses’ unsuspected accomplices: most of the 151 companies were based in Tortorici, a town perched on the mountains.

The nominated entrepreneurs attested to owning hundreds of plots, not only in the province of Messina, but all over the island and even beyond. These were false allegations.

The oldest mafia in Sicily had already invented a very modern business: the occupation of virtual pastures, with the aim of circumventing the protocols designed by the former president of the Nebrodi Park, Giuseppe Antoci, to block the cessions of state land to the bosses and nominees.

Antoci, present at the sentencing, said: “a circle closes and a page of history is written, a territory is freed. Since 2013, I never imagined crossing such a winding road, I never thought that I had to risk my life and lose my freedom, just as I certainly never thought of contributing to creating a standard that has proven to be devastating for mafia organizations.”

Investigating judge Salvatore Mastroeni spoke of a “obvious inextricability” of the Tortorici Mafia. “Despite dozens and dozens of operations and processes, here the mafia is, absurdly, a kind of social class, as such it can be countered, but it can almost not be eliminated as a category. “ The silent mafia, the evolving mafia, the “phoenix still rising.”

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