Mineo arrest hit resurgent Mafia hard, says top policeman

Settimino Mineo (C), jeweller and new head of the Sicilian mafia, is escorted by carabinieri as he exits a police station after his arrest, in Palermo on December 4, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 10 December 2018
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Mineo arrest hit resurgent Mafia hard, says top policeman

  • Mineo was the head of one of the 15 Mafia family groupings in Palermo province, with each grouping having two to four families

ROME: The arrest of “Godfather” Settimino Mineo has dealt Cosa Nostra a crucial blow as it tries to reorganize after the violent leadership of the Corleone family, Italy’s top anti-Mafia policeman told AFP.
Police arrested jeweller Mineo, 80, and at least 45 others in Sicily last Tuesday just before he was due to be officially anointed the new “boss of bosses,” they said.
“The arrest of Settimo Mineo was an important operation because it’s a kind of preventative operation at a time when Cosa Nostra is trying to reorganize,” Giuseppe Governale, the head of Italy’s Anti-Mafia Investigation Directorate (DIA), told AFP.
“Cosa Nostra is having a hard time, they don’t even completely control drug trafficking on the island but have to make alliances with the ‘Ndrangheta (the mafia of nearby Calabria) for resupply.”
Mineo was the head of one of the 15 Mafia family groupings in Palermo province, with each grouping having two to four families.
“Four other group heads were arrested with him as well as several family heads, so this is important at a time when Cosa Nostra is trying to find an heir to Toto Riina,” Governale said.
Sicily’s Mafia has historically been headed by a family from Palermo, Governale said, but that was turned upside down when the Corleone family took over in the 1960s, with unusual violence.
“When the Corleones took over there were a lot of conflicts. Some Mafiosi fled but now they’re slowly returning, given that the Corleones are no longer in charge,” he said.
The last overall Mafia boss was the notorious Riina, who died in prison last year, and a reconvened Mafia Commission, or “Cupola,” was to anoint Mineo as his heir after meeting in May for the first time since 1993 — when Riina was arrested.
Riina and Bernardo Provenzano were proteges of Luciano Liggio, who headed the Corleonesi Mafia faction in the 1960s.
Together the three men from Corleone, around 1.5 hours drive south of Palermo, took the Mafia in the Sicilian capital by surprise using daring and, above all, violence.
“This short-circuited Cosa Nostra’s general logic,” Governale said.
“The Mafia used measured violence with precision, like a surgeon uses a scalpel, sometimes a little excessively, but the Corleones’ virulence was incredible, even for the other bosses,” he said.
While many in Italy and abroad considered fugitive Mafioso Matteo Messina Denaro the real boss of Cosa Nostra, Governale says the organized crime goup is “light-years away from seeing Matteo Messina Denaro as its boss.”
Hunted by police since 1993, Denaro, 56, was also considered to be a successor to Riina and Provenzano, who also died recently in prison.
Denaro played an important role in the 1980s and 1990s in Trapani in western Sicily, but police operations to try to find him have had the collateral effect of weakening any criminal structure that would consider him a boss.
In 2015, police discovered that Denaro had abandoned modern methods of communication and was giving orders to his men via traditional “pizzini“: small bits of paper containing encoded messages.
“Now, because of his operational absence on the ground, he would have to affirm his leadership,” Governale said.


Philippine Senators oppose president’s push to lower criminal age to 9

President Rodrigo Duterte speaks in front of housewives and mothers, that participate in the anti-illegal drugs campaign of the provincial government and Duterte's war on drugs at Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga province, Philippines December 22, 2016. (REUTERS)
Updated 23 January 2019
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Philippine Senators oppose president’s push to lower criminal age to 9

  • International organizations have expressed alarm, including UNICEF and Save the Children, while domestic activists said children should be protected from criminals

MANILA: Senators in the Philippines on Tuesday joined activists and child protection groups in condemning a lower house move to reduce the age of criminal liability from 15 to nine, calling it extreme and unjust.
The proposal has President Rodrigo Duterte’s support and is being revived by his Congressional allies, having been filed on his inauguration day in 2016 along with a bid to re-introduce the death penalty — moves touting his crime-busting credentials.
The plan was approved on Monday by the lower house’s justice committee, but still needs several readings before a house vote. It would then require counterpart legislation and approval of the Senate, members of which appear less supportive.
“It is anti-family, anti-poor and simply unjust. Moreover, it will promote a heartless and ruthless society that has no regard for its own people,” said Antonio Trillanes, one of Duterte’s biggest critics.
Risa Hontiveros said the idea went against Philippines’ international commitments and a global trend of raising, not lowering, the criminal age.
“Why do we want to slide back to the minimum, or even below the minimum? Is this a race to the bottom?” she told a Senate hearing.
Duterte campaigned aggressively on eliminating crime, drugs and corruption and has said he has since realized they were all on a greater scale than he had imagined.
Despite a war on drugs that has killed thousands of people and graft-related scandals and resignations of his own appointees, Duterte has not lost his lustre among Filipinos, who polls show back his morality-centered approach to law and order.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said nine was too young, but he supported lowering the age “to a certain level.” Joel Villanueva said the bill needed a rethink, to target parents more.
“Children in general have different levels of maturity and discernment,” he added.
International organizations have expressed alarm, including UNICEF and Save the Children, while domestic activists said children should be protected from criminals, not held liable for things they were forced to do.
Agnes Callamard, a United Nations special rapporteur who has frequently locked horns with Duterte, called it a “dangerous and potentially deadly proposal. Just shameful.”
Justice committee chairman Salvador Leachon, however, said the bill was misunderstood, and was rehabilitation-centered, and “pro-children,” with non-compliant parents the ones who would go to jail.
“The point here is there is no punishment,” he told news channel ANC. “It’s rehabilitation, reformative, taking care of the family.”