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.


ICC prosecutor: examination of Philippines continues despite withdrawal

More than 5,000 suspected drug dealers have been killed in police anti-narcotics operations since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in June 2016. (AP)
Updated 36 min 47 sec ago
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ICC prosecutor: examination of Philippines continues despite withdrawal

  • Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda: ICC continues to have jurisdiction over possible crimes committed during the period the country was a member
  • The ICC procedure was ‘political persecution’ of Duterte, presidential spokesperson said

AMSTERDAM/MANILA: The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor said on Monday her examination into possible crimes against humanity committed in the Philippines would go on, despite its withdrawal from the court.
The Philippines’ withdrawal from the Hague court was formalized on Sunday.
Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement the ICC continued to have jurisdiction over possible crimes committed during the period the country was a member.
Bensouda has been examining whether thousands of extrajudicial killings allegedly committed during President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on drugs are sufficient to warrant a formal investigation.
Duterte’s spokesman said the ICC had no basis to continue its preliminary examination and the government would not cooperate with it.
“They cannot enter here if that is their purpose, to investigate. You are already intruding into our sovereignty,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo told a regular news conference on Tuesday.
More than 5,000 suspected drug dealers have been killed in police anti-narcotics operations since Duterte took office in June 2016.
Rights groups and critics say some of the killings were summary executions. Police deny such allegations, saying they had to use deadly force because the suspects were armed and resisted arrest.
The Philippines unilaterally withdrew from the ICC in March 2018 over what Duterte called “outrageous” attacks and violations of due process by it.
“We have already pointed out that in this country we have a judicial system that is robust and functional and very effective,” Panelo said.
The ICC procedure was “political persecution” of Duterte, he said.