The Guardian: Matteo Salvini’s electoral victory in the southern region of Calabria during the Italian general election this year was supported by a former politician who law enforcement authorities have claimed has close ties to the ‘Ndrangheta, the criminal organisation that controls most of the cocaine trade in Europe.
There is no suggestions that Salvini has any direct ties to the criminal organisation. But the Guardian has examined Salvini’s ties to individuals who are alleged to have close links to the ‘Ndrangheta, because of the interior minister’s role overseeing law enforcement and domestic security.
The Guardian writes that “the far-right interior minister and head of the League party, who has emerged as a de facto prime minister, won his senate seat in the region with the backing of a former mayor of Reggio Calabria, Giuseppe Scopelliti, with whom Salvini had a political alliance and who was arrested weeks after the March poll for forging documents while he was mayor.”
In a previous mafia case in which he was not charged, Scopelliti was described in court documents as being “sponsored” by one of the ruling clans of the ‘Ndrangheta. Prosecutors also alleged in records seen by the Guardian that the most powerful criminal clans in the area played a “crucial role” in Scopelliti’s political career.
Giovanni Tizian, a Calabrian journalist for L’Espresso who has lived under police protection since 2011 after being threatened by the ‘Ndrangheta, told the Guardian that Salvini’s electoral gains in Calabria – from having virtually no support five years ago to winning office – “relied on the support of men with a troubled past and a dark political history”.
“The priority was getting as many votes as he could. In this sense, Scopelliti represented a fortune for Salvini. It didn’t matter that Scopelliti was [previously] elected with the support of the clans, as investigations have revealed. Scopelliti was popular and could count on thousands of supporters,” Tizian said.
A spokeswoman for Salvini declined to comment.
Earlier in June Matteo Salvini, Italy’s far-right interior minister, has threatened to remove a police escort protecting Roberto Saviano, the prominent author of a best-selling exposé of the Mafia, after he criticised the new government’s hardline policies on immigration. (FT)