22 Mar 2009

Tens of thousands march in Naples against mafia

1:56 pm on 22 March 2009

More than 100,000 people marched in Naples on Saturday in one of the biggest anti-mafia rallies in recent years.

Relatives of victims of organised crime, some wearing white gloves and holding pictures of their loved ones, led the demonstration as the names of some 900 people killed by the mafia were read out through loudspeakers.

The march was organised by Libera (Free), an association of civil society groups involved in many anti-mafia activities, including acquiring farms and buildings confiscated from the mafia and using them for social good, such as school and drug rehabilitation centres.

Writer Roberto Saviano, 29, a symbol of the fight against the mafia since his best-selling book "Gomorra" exposed how the mob dominates life around Naples, was also at the rally.

Italian police have inflicted major blows on the Sicilian mafia in recent years, arresting several high-profile mafiosi, such as the "boss of bosses" Bernardo Provenzano and his heir apparent Salvatore Lo Piccolo in 2007.

But the country's four biggest mafia organisations - Calabria's 'Ndrangheta, Sicily's Cosa Nostra, Naples' Camorra and Puglia's Sacra Corona Unita - are believed still to account for a large chunk of Italy's economy.

Interior Minister Roberto Maroni has said that the 'Ndrangheta alone, now considered the most powerful of Italy's crime syndicates, makes 45 billion euros a year through its hold on the European drugs market.