Italy’s interior ministry has announced that it will bolster its anti-mafia task force in the Apulian city of Foggia after local mobsters attempted for the second time to blow up a key witness in a trial.
The bombing targeted an care home for the elderly run by a cooperative managed in part by Christian Vigilante, a witness in a major trial against alleged gangsters, according to local police reports.
No one was injured in the attack.
The explosion followed a bombing two weeks ago that destroyed Vigilante’s car and damaged six other vehicles.
Vigilante is a key witness in a lawsuit against 29 alleged members of the local mafia organization Societa foggiana, who are suspected of trying to extort protection payments from the health company and to force Vigilante to hire employees close to the mafia.
Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese said she was “utterly determined” to bring down the mob, and said she was counting on “the mobilisation of all civil society … to respond to criminal attacks without fear”.
Minister Lamorgese’s office said she was sending extra police forces to the region and opening a special office of organised crime investigators.
Until a few years ago, it was believed that Apulia, known for its spectacular beaches and exquisite cuisine, was controlled by the Sacra Corona Unita mafia organisation. However, the latest report by the Anti-Mafia Investigative Directorate (DIA), points to the existence of various criminal organisations that have divided the territory among them.
The DIA estimates that at least 20 different clans, responsible for about 300 murders over the past three decades, operate in Apulia, a traditionally agricultural region that, despite its 21% unemployment rate, is experiencing an economic upswing due to the booming tourism in the region.
On January 10, some 20,000 people marched in protest against the mafia’s stranglehold on local commerce and institutions in Foggia, where it is estimated that up to 80 percent of businesses pay protection money to the mob.