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Woman informant killed, dissolved in acid

Lea Garofalo 'lured into trap' by ex-companion, 'Ndrangheta boss

18 October, 15:39
Woman informant killed, dissolved in acid

(ANSA) - Milan, October 18 - An informant against the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta mafia was murdered and her body dissolved in acid in the countryside not far from Milan last November, Italian police said Monday.

Lea Garofalo, 35, who had been giving evidence since 2002 but who lost her protection detail in 2006, was apparently lured into a trap by her ex-companion, 'Ndrangheta boss Carlo Cosco, on the pretext of keeping up ties with their grown daughter, police said.

Cosco and an accomplice, Massimo Sabatino, are accused of persuading the woman to come to Milan to talk about the relationship on November 24.

At the time, Cosco and Sabatino were in jail for attempting to kidnap Garofalo in May.

Two other mafiosi, whose names were not released, allegedly kidnapped Garofalo.

The actual killing and the disposal of the body were allegedly carried out by two of Cosco's brothers, Giuseppe and Vito.

Police said there was evidence that Garofalo had been tortured in a warehouse before she was murdered and put into an acid bath on waste ground on the night of November 24-25 outside a small town near Monza, San Fruttuoso.

In all, prosecutors issued six arrest warrants in connection with the case, including the ones served on Cosco and Sabatino in jail.

It was not clear why Garofalo was no longer in the witness protection programme or why she had not been reassigned a bodyguard after the May attempted kidnapping.

The six who were served warrants are all connected to 'Ndrangheta clans based near the Calabrian city of Crotone, on which the dead woman had been providing information.

Garofalo's disappearance was reported by her daughter and police set in motion the investigation that ended Monday.


As criticism of the handling of the case mounted,  the official in charge of managing Italy's witness protection programme said Garofalo had left the programme of her own accord,
Facing pressure and even some calls for him to quit, Interior Ministry Undersecretary Alfredo Mantovano admitted that Garofalo was discharged from the system in 2006 because police were unable to get actionable intelligence from her statements.
He said she contested the ruling and therefore kept her bodyguards until she "spontaneously gave up" her protection and "went back to her native town" in April 2009, six months before being killed.
 Mantovano stressed that there had been no police request to readmit her despite the attempt to kidnap her by her eventual killers in May 2009.




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