Italy over the weekend ordered the release of several mafia leaders from jail under the government’s new coronavirus regulation.
A report by CNN quoting Italy’s anti-mafia prosecutor Federico Cafiero de Raho said that among the released inmates were Francesco Bonura, an influential boss in the Sicilian Cosa Nostra; Vincenzo Iannazzo, a member of the Ndrangheta; and Pasquale Zagaria, a member of the Casalesi clan.
All leaders were put to house arrest in a bid to slow down the transmission of the coronavirus.
Under the new coronavirus regulations, Italy allowed for the early release of convicts who have only 18 months or less to serve to practice social distancing measures amid the country’s continued rise in virus infections.
Cafiero de Raho said that the three men were under “extra isolation measures” to avoid contact with people outside the prison due to the roles they held in mafia organisations.
“Once they are sent back home, these measures are no longer enforced,” he said.
Bonura, who is only set to serve nine months in prison, was sentenced for 23 years for charges linked to his role in a mafia organisation.
Iannazo, meanwhile, was in 2018 slapped with 14 years in prison for being an accomplice of a mafia syndicate. He is also known as a powerful head of a clan in Lamezia Terme city.
Meanwhile, Zagaria was sentenced to 20 years in prison since 2007 for his membership of a mafia organisation called Casalesi. He was considered to have the financial links that funded the group’s operations.
Italy’s move was met with criticisms, with leaders of opposition parties calling the release a “crazy” idea.
“It’s a lack of respect for people, magistrates, journalists, policemen and victims of the mafia,” said Lega leader Matteo Salvini in a Facebook video.
Meanwhile, CNN quoted Justice Minister Alfonso Bonafed as saying that the government’s decision to release inmates was in an “autonomous and independent way”
“In this moment of crisis, mafia organisations can further infiltrate economic life, especially by supporting or even acquiring businesses in financial difficulties that aren’t able to access public aid and are therefore obliged to turn to alternative credit sources, those of the criminal organisations,” Cafiero De Raho, the prosecutor, told CNN.
Apart from Italy, other European countries such as Britain, Greece, Germany, and France have made moves to release inmates early. Other countries in the European Union are expected to follow suit.
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