Mafia accused of devastating blazes in Italy

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Posted by AssurHaddon from ( on Saturday, August 16, 2003 at 10:07PM :

What goes around comes around!


Mafia accused of devastating blazes in Italy


THE Mafia is behind fires that have devastated thousands of acres of prime real estate in Italy, according to government ministers.

From the beaches of Sardinia to the dramatic Amalfi coast, blazes consumed 37,070 acres of land in June and July, fuelled by a heat wave and prolonged drought, said interior minister Giuseppe Pisanu.

But it is thought that many of the fires were sparked by the ‘eco-Mafia’, criminal gangs that try to turn a profit from illegal businesses, such as clandestine waste disposal, which are harmful to the environment.

The fires are thought to have been set as part of a plan to muscle in on property and reconstruction deals or to get insurance pay-outs. "The dramatic experiences of recent weeks point to a real and existing ‘fire industry’," Pisanu said.

Authorities were investigating the possibility the fires were set by an eco-Mafia, he said during a police-station tour.

Officials suspect that the Mafia is trying to take advantage of the Europe-wide heat wave to push its own agenda.

Earlier this week, police accused the Naples-based Mafia, known as the Camorra, of burning down a pine forest park in Castelfusano, west of Rome.

They say the fire was started by a fire-raising chemical and suspect the Camorra wanted either to get its hands on a reforestation contract or to send a message to the company that manages the park.

Pisanu said the problem appeared to be much wider than previously thought and warned that changes would have to be made to environmental laws to ensure that ‘eco-crimes’ did not get out of control.

Across Italy, more than 100,000 firefighters put out 1,643 blazes in June and July, and spot fires have continued to consume northern forests and coastal parks this month.

-- AssurHaddon
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