Anti-mafia priest sent pig's head in Godfather-style warning
An Italian priest who campaigns against the mafia was sent a severed pig's head, in a scene straight out of The Godfather.
The pig's mouth was stuffed with a wad of cloth in what was interpreted as a clear warning to the clergyman by the 'Ndrangheta mafia.
The bloody head was left outside Father Ennio Stamile's home in the town of Cetraro in Calabria, the 'Ndrangheta's stronghold.
The macabre gesture had chilling echoes of a famous scene in The Godfather in which a Hollywood producer who refuses to do business with Don Vito Corleone, played by Marlon Brando in the 1972 film of the same name, wakes up to find the severed head of his favourite racehorse at the end of his bed.
It was the second threat received by the priest in five days – last week his car was vandalised.
Fr Stamile has been prominent in speaking out against organised crime in Cetraro, which gained notoriety for its high rate of mob-related murders.
"These are people who are warped by evil, but righteousness pays and pays many times over," he said on Monday.
"I certainly won't stop what I'm doing, but I don't want to send a message that I'm trying to defy anyone. Calabria has no need for heroes, just people who want to do their duty."
Giuseppe Aieta, the mayor of the town, said: "It's a nasty business. We have faith in the forces of order and the judiciary. A priest has never been targeted in this way in Cetraro." The priest had been the victim of "a vile act of intimidation" and deserved solidarity and support, said Agazio Loiero, a regional politician.
Don Ennio also received messages of encouragement from other anti-Mafia campaigners.
"We have a duty to stand by the side of those who daily commit themselves to the fight against the 'Ndrangheta and fearlessly uphold values of honesty and non-violence," said Salvatore Magaro', the president of the regional anti-mafia commission.
Fr Ennio was "a priest of the highest calibre" who had battled "all forms of injustice", Mr Magaro' said.
The 'Ndrangheta, which has made millions of pounds from drug dealing and other illegal activities, had to be fought everywhere – "in towns and villages, in schools, in universities and in work places," the president said.
"No one can think that with such threats they can impede justice and legality," Libera, an anti-mafia organisation, said in a statement.
"This sort of intimidation is proof of the positive work that is being done in this part of the country against organised crime." According to a report released earlier this month, Italy's mafia organisations are now the country's de facto biggest bank, with cash reserves of 65 billion euros.
The country's four mafia groups – including Cosa Nostra in Sicily, the Camorra in Campania and Naples and the 'Ndrangheta in Calabria – boast an annual turnover of €140 billion, according to the study by Confesercenti, an employers' association.
They make an estimated annual profit of €100 billion – around seven per cent of Italy's GDP.
"Mafia Inc is Italy's number one bank, with €65 billion in liquidity," the association said in its report, Criminality's Grip on Business.