Several Italian mafia leaders have been released from prison under new coronavirus regulations, said the country’s national anti-mafia prosecutor.
Francesco Bonura, an influential patron of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra; Vincenzo Iannazzo, member of the Ndrangheta; and Pasquale Zagaria, a member of the Casalesi clan, have now been placed under house arrest, according to Federico Cafiero De Raho, Italian anti-mafia prosecutor.
To prevent the spread of the new coronavirus in penal establishments, the Italian government has authorized the courts to transfer prisoners sentenced to 18 months or less in home prison.
Cafiero De Raho said the three men had been detained as part of “additional isolation measures” to avoid contact with people outside the prison because of their roles in mafia organizations.
“Once returned to their homes, these measures are obviously no longer applied,” added the prosecutor.
Bonura was sentenced to 23 years in prison on charges related to his role in a mafia organization and was only serving nine more months in prison.
Iannazzo was sentenced in 2018 to more than 14 years in prison for being an accomplice in a mafia union. He is also known as a powerful clan leader in the city of Lamezia Terme.
Zagaria was arrested in 2007 and sentenced to 20 years in prison as a member of a mafia organization. He was considered the financial spirit behind the Casalesi clan.
The release of mafia bosses has been criticized in Italy.
“It’s crazy,” said Matteo Salvini, leader of the Italian opposition party La Lega, in a Facebook video. “It is a lack of respect for the people, the magistrates, the journalists, the police and the victims of the mafia. “
Justice Minister Alfonso Bonafede said the decision to release the detainees was taken by the courts “autonomously and independently”, but authorities are considering a proposal to involve the country’s anti-mafia department in the decision final.
“At this time of crisis, mafia organizations can infiltrate economic life more, in particular by supporting or even acquiring companies in financial difficulty who cannot access public aid and are therefore forced to turn to sources of credit alternatives, those of criminal organizations, “Cafiero De Raho, the prosecutor, told CNN.
The total number of prisoners in Italy has decreased by 6,500 since February 29, according to the Ministry of Justice.
Alessio Scandurra, coordinator of Antigone, a prisoner rights organization, said that regulations on coronaviruses and other factors are behind the decline in the prison population.