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Heart of Palermo

Sicily's "King of Wind" guilty of bankrolling top mafioso on the lam

The Guardian has been keeping a close eye on Sicily these days. (Wind turbines now ruin the spectacular, cinematic views of mountain ridges all over the island.) Here is a story from Today, Tuesday.

A Sicilian windfarm businessman, known as the "king of wind", has been sentenced to nine years in prison for bankrolling the No 1 mafia fugitive, Matteo Messina Denaro.

Vito Nicastri, a former electrician from Alcamo in the province of Trapani, was one of the key funders of Denaro's long spell on the run, a judge in Palermo ruled on Tuesday.


In Sicily, on the hunt for the last mafia fugitive
 
 
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In 2013, Nicastri, who was under house arrest, lost his companies, property, cars and boats after anti-mafia investigators ordered the definitive confiscation of his assets worth €1.3bn (£1.1bn).

Among the assets were 43 companies, 98 properties, 66 bank accounts, credit cards, investment funds, cars and boats. Most were located in Sicily and Calabria.

Investigators said Nicastri, who made his name as an alternative energy entrepreneur, had invested money made from criminal activities and had "high-level" contacts in the mafia and "close ties to Matteo Messina Denaro".

 

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Palermo's "Kidnapped" Caravaggio

From The Guardian:

"..."The letter was accompanied by piece of the painting, a tiny piece of the canvas, which was intended to make clear to me that they really had the Caravaggio in their possession," Benedetto told his interviewer. "I went straight to the superintendent and informed him of what was happening. I left him the letter and the piece of canvas."

"The mafia was doing with the painting what they normally do with kidnapping victims", says D'Anolfi, who, at 45, is now an acclaimed director and will be screening the full interview next month in Palermo. "They had sent a piece of the painting just like they normally send a finger or an ear of a kidnapping victim."

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Mafia at its weakest now

From The Guardian...

by Lorenzo Tondo in Palermo
Sun 22 Sep 2019 09.36 BST
 
I remember the day as if it was yesterday – 23 May 1992, the day that changed Sicilians' lives for ever. I remember my mother's tears as she sat glued to the TV, watching what looked like an earthquake. Cars buried in rubble, streets ripped open, dozens of photographers and police officers on the scene of what in my mind could only have been a natural disaster.

I quickly realised that wasn't the case – that a terrible murder had been committed. The white Fiat Croma buried in the dirt was carrying Cosa Nostra's number one enemy, the anti-mafia magistrate Giovanni Falcone. Mafia bosses had placed 300kg of explosives under the motorway between the airport and Palermo. As the convoy of cars surrounding the Fiat got closer, the bomb was detonated, killing Falcone, his wife and three members of his police escort.



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Some good news

From The Guardian:

Eighty-two migrants have disembarked in Italy, marking a break from the era of hardline immigration measures pushed by the former interior minister, Matteo Salvini.

On Saturday night, the migrants were transferred from the Norwegian-flagged rescue boat Ocean Viking, operated by the French charities SOS Méditerranée and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), to a coastguard vessel before being taken ashore on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa.

The decision follows an agreement with other EU member states, coordinated by the European commission, and most of those onboard will be relocated to other countries, including France, Germany, Portugal and Luxembourg.

It is the first time this year that Rome has allowed passengers to disembark from an NGO rescue vessel.

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Looking for an agent to represent my third book.

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Madonie Mountains

The Masseria Susafa is in Polizzi Generosa.

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Dozens of emigrants drown off Libya

From The Guardian this afternoon:

Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty Images
Dozens of bodies have been recovered from the Mediterranean, a day after the shipwreck that caused the deaths of up to 150 migrants.

Eyewitnesses described harrowing scenes in the sea, in what a senior UN official called the "the worst Mediterranean tragedy" so far this year.

Fishermen told AFP they saw bodies as they waded through the wreckage searching for survivors: "There were bodies floating on the surface of the water where the boat went down."

One survivor, Abdallah Osman, said the boat making the perilous journey from Libya started to fill with water about 90 minutes after setting out to sea on Wednesday night. Then its engine broke down.

Over the following six hours, men, women and children began to drown.

"Shortly after dawn, fishermen came out with their small boats and started taking us to shore, five at a time ... That went on until nine in the morning," he told AFP.


'I saw hell': under fire inside Libya's refugee detention centres
 
 
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Dolce & Gabbana dance practice

Two years ago Dolce & Gabbana ( Dolce is from Polizzi Generosa) put on a fashion show in downtown Palermo. This was a practice session, the women in stilettos, to music from the soundtrack of Visconti's film, "The Leopard." I needed something light tonight.

 

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Rescue Ship Captain a Hero in Palermo

Click on the photo to be directed to an English-language podcast, an interview with the rescue ship captain Italian Interior Minister Salvini has called a pirate and Palermo Mayor Leoluca Orlando calls a hero, provided by the The Guardian newspaper.

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Palermo Mayor resists Salvini immigration law

From the New York Times:

By Jason Horowitz
Feb. 1, 2019
 


 

PALERMO, Sicily — Italy's populist interior minister, Matteo Salvini, celebrated Parliament's passage of his Security Decree to crack down on illegal immigration by assuring his supporters last year that "I won't stop!"

But stopping Mr. Salvini is exactly what Leoluca Orlando, the mayor of Palermo, the Sicilian capital, wants to do.

Passed with much fanfare late last year, Mr. Salvini's Security Decree was intended to make Italy more unwelcoming to migrants, not least by doing away with two years of "humanitarian protection" for asylum seekers, a status that allowed them to live in the country legally.

Far from adding to security, says Mr. Orlando, 71, a veteran mayor and constitutional law professor who came to prominence in the fight against the mafia, the law risks pushing migrants into the shadows and the criminal underworld by denying them legal status as well as access to health care and other social services.

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