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Police land haul of mobsters amid hunt for freed inmate

Mother questioned about bringing wounded brother to hospital

04 February, 20:04
Police land haul of mobsters amid hunt for freed inmate (By Christopher Livesay) (ANSA) - Rome, February 4 - Italian police were engaged in a nationwide manhunt Tuesday for escaped convict Domenico Cutri', an inmate with alleged mafia ties who was freed on Monday in an attack on a prison van that was taking him to trial.

The inmate's 30-year-old brother, Antonino, died of his wounds in hospital after being hit by prison guards in a shoot-out during the breakout Monday north of Milan. Police on Tuesday were investigating their mother, who took the wounded brother to the hospital before he died. "A stranger rang my doorbell and told me Antonino was hurt, he was wounded," she told authorities. "I didn't ask why. No one ever tells me anything".

The woman said Antonio was determined to spring his brother from jail since he was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2012 for a 2006 murder in the Novara area.

"To help Domenico evade was an obsession for Antonino," she said. "He even signed up for a helicopter pilot-training course".

Two police officers were injured in the shoot-out. Police on Tuesday found the stolen Citroen C3 car used by the gang to escape.

They said they are looking for two or three other men who took part in the attack as well as Cutri'. The 32-year-old was convicted on appeal in December 2012 of planning the murder of Luckasz Kobrzeniecki, shot to death outside his house in Trecate on June 15, 2006. The gunman, Manuel Martelli, got 16 years and four months in an unappealable fast-track trial. Cutrì, an alleged affiliate of the Calabria-based 'Ndrangheta mafia, decided to murder Kobrzeniecki because he was bothering his girlfriend. Meanwhile, police cracked down on mafia suspects nationwide on Tuesday, including the arrest of a top boss. Mario Riccio, known as 'Mariano', was arrested in a villa on the outskirts of Naples in the company of his wife and baby daughter.

Implicated in a violent 2012 Naples turf war, the fugitive is a known boss in the Naples-based Camorra mafia. He is the alleged head of the Amato-Pagano clan and a relative of Cesare Pagano, the historic boss of the turbulent Scampia neighbourhood in northern Naples.

He had been on the run since 2011 and was on the Italian interior ministry's list of 100 most dangerous fugitives. Riccio has been sentenced to 16 years in jail for mafia association and drug trafficking and is believed to have played an important role in the revival of hostilities between two rival Camorra gangs in Scampia in late summer 2012.

In Rome, police arrested 29 people on suspicion of mafia association, fraud and extortion in relation to the activities of a clan of the Neapolitan mafia, the Camorra. Assets worth around 400 million euros were also confiscated in the operation, including properties in Rome, Gorizia, Genoa and Caserta and companies operating in the fields of property, construction, food and hospitality, car sales, financial investment, betting, and stud farms.

Investigators said the assets derived from illegal activities organised by the 'Zazo' crime family, including drug trafficking and extortion of shopkeepers and businesspeople in the Fuorigrotta district of Naples. The Camorra has been extending its grip beyond its home patch in the province of Naples in recent years and there are concerns that it and other organised crime gangs are becoming increasingly strong in the capital.