Lunedì, 22 Ottobre 2018

Record seizure from wind-farm king linked to Mafia head


(By Denis Greenan).
Palermo, April 3 - Italian police on Wednesday made
the biggest-ever assets seizure in the history of the country as
they hit a Sicilian wind-farm mogul linked to the fugitive head
of the Sicilian Mafia.
In a dawn raid across Italy, anti-Mafia police seized
assets worth over 1.3 billion euros belonging to Sicilian
wind-farm and solar-power magnate Vito Nicastri.
The National Anti-Mafia Directorate (DIA) said Nicastri was
linked to Cosa Nostra's reputed head, Matteo Messina Denaro.
The operation involved 43 companies or stakes in companies,
98 properties, seven vehicles and 66 financial assets, including
bank accounts, credit cards and life-insurance policies,
belonging to Nicastri, a leading player in the clean-energy
"We have hit the heart of the grey area of Cosa Nostra,"
investigators said.
As well as Sicily, assets were seized in Lombardy, Lazio
and Calabria.
Investigators said the 57-year-old businessman from Alcamo,
in western Sicily, "maintained constant relations with members
of Cosa Nostra" in the provinces of Catania, Messina and
Palermo, as well as having contacts with Calabrian crime
syndicate 'Ndrangheta.
This relationship allegedly "facilitated his
transformation from an electrician into a businessman
specialising in the production of electricity from renewable
sources, giving him a prominent position in the south (of
In a "tumultuous business dynamic," they added, Nicastri
had "relations" with companies in Luxembourg, Denmark and Spain.
The businessman, who was put under "special supervision" in
which he will have to regularly sign in at police stations, has
been involved in previous probes which revealed Cosa Nostra's
"huge" involvement in wind farms near Trapani, Messina Denaro's
home turf, investigators said.
The record assets seizure is the latest in the anti-Mafia
prosecutors' 'scorched earth' policy aimed at draining Messina
Denaro's resources and exposing him, police said.
Despite his life as a fugitive, Messina Denaro is still
reportedly active as the closest thing the Mafia has to a chief
following the capture of Bernardo Provenzano in 2006 after 43
years on the run.
On Tuesday the Il Fatto Quotidiano daily reported that
Messina Denaro was planning to kill a prosecutor leading a case
against police allegedly involved in suspected secret 1990s
talks with the State to stop a bombing campaign that claimed the
lives of magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.
Details of Messina Denaro's alleged assassination plan
against Palermo prosecutor Nino Di Matteo were contained in two
anonymous letters sent to Palermo prosecutors a few days ago,
the daily said.
The government immediately ordered Di Matteo's police
protection to be beefed up.
The report was the first claim that Messina Denaro was
planning to kill a prosecutor.
It came as a surprise in the light of the Italian police's
repeated reports they have severely dented the Mafia chief's
power by arresting associates and seizing assets.
In the last seizure before Wednesday's, on January 25,
hundreds of thousands of euros in olive-oil businesses, cars and
bank accounts were confiscated or frozen.
They were in the name of Messina Denaro's sister Anna and
her husband, detained on Mafia charges, 43-year-old Vincenzo
A wave of arrests over recent years have closed the net
around the 50-year-old Messina Denaro, one of the world's 10
most-wanted men, according to Interpol.
In 2011 the hunt kicked into a new gear when police issued
a new identikit picture of him.
A year previously they were able to reconstruct his DNA.
Messina Denaro built up his power base in his native
Trapani, in western Sicily, before beating Palermo chieftains to
become Mob kingpin after 'boss of bosses' Provenzano was caught
in April 2006.
His position at the top of Cosa Nostra was assured with the
November 2007 arrest of Palermo boss Salvatore Lo Piccolo, a
veteran mafia chieftain who had appeared to be vying with the
younger mobster for control of crime syndicate and had the
apparent support of the 'old guard'.
Messina Denaro had been expanding his criminal empire
abroad and police found evidence of trips to Austria, Greece,
Spain and Tunisia.
But police launched a major counter-offensive, implementing
their 'scorched earth' campaign to try and flush Messina Denaro
out, arresting scores of his underlings and seizing million of
euros in assets.
"The circle is closing around the No.1 fugitive,"
then interior minister Roberto Maroni said in 2010.
Palermo Chief Prosecutor Francesco Messineo added at the
time that their aim of the strategy against Messina Denaro was
to "dry up the water he swims in".
Last May then National Anti-Mafia Prosecutor Pietro Grasso,
who has since become Senate Speaker after being elected for the
centre-left Democratic Party in February elections, said the
efforts had been so successful that "the Mafia effectively no
longer has a No.1".
Nicknamed 'Diabolik' after a cult Italian comic strip
criminal, Messina Denaro sealed a reputation for brutality by
murdering a rival Trapani boss and strangling his three-months
pregnant girlfriend.
He is reportedly idolised by Cosa Nostra younger troops
because of his ruthlessness and playboy-like charisma.

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