Italy’s fight against mafia a blueprint against transnational organized crime, INTERPOL Chief tells Palermo meeting

11 June 2012

PALERMO, Italy ‒ INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble has said that global efforts against transnational organized crime can learn from the effective international police cooperation and national resolve which underpin Italy’s on-going struggle against the mafia.

Speaking at the Third Experts Meeting (11-13 June) of the Digest of Organized Crime Cases project, Mr Noble said  the initiative provided an important ‘toolbox’ which assisted countries in implementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, signed in Palermo in 2000, by providing them with key best practices in investigative and prosecutorial techniques, as well as in law enforcement cooperation.

At the meeting attended by Italian Senate President Renato Schifani, Italian Interior Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri, President of the Regional Assembly of Sicily Francesco Cascio, Prefect Antonio Manganelli, Chief of the Italian Police and Director General of Public Security of Italy, Director John Sandage of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and members of the Experts’ Group, Mr Noble paid tribute to judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, as well as to the eight Italian police officers and Giovanni Falcone’s wife, Francesca Morvillo, who were killed in Palermo bombings 20 years ago at the hands of the Cosa Nostra.

With tens of thousands of individuals holding public mandates ‒  ministers, members of parliament, police officers and judges ‒ but also journalists, writers, professors and countless ordinary citizens having found the courage to stand up against the Mafia, Mr Noble said: “By demonstrating that its institutions and people are standing as one in facing the Mafia, Italy is setting an example for the world against organized crime.”

Mr Noble recalled how Felicia Impastato dedicated her life to successfully bringing her son’s murderers to justice, as well as President Napolitano’s visit to Sicily this year to celebrate a State funeral for Placido Rizzotto, a trade union leader who was assassinated in 1948 by the Cosa Nostra but whose body was only recently identified.

The Head of INTERPOL said that besides institutions and individuals, international law enforcement and judicial cooperation was equally crucial in successfully combatting organized crime, and that this is precisely what INTERPOL strives to accomplish within the international law enforcement community.

Prefect Manganelli stressed the importance of cooperation between INTERPOL’s 190 member countries and said Italy’s cooperation with INTERPOL had been ‘especially close’ in the aftermath of the Italian judges’ assassinations.

“Today’s fight against organized crime means not just arresting criminals but also seizing their assets, and in this area INTERPOL’s global network  has offered strong support to Italy.  In 2011 alone, Italy confiscated properties, money and other assets belonging to the mafia worth some 9 billion Euros. In this respect Italy will be proud to see the Digest become an invaluable resource to the law enforcement community worldwide,” added Prefect Manganelli.

Mr Noble cited how recently, INTERPOL had contributed to the arrest of one of Italy’s most wanted criminals, Vito Roberto Palazzolo, who had been sentenced in Palermo to nine years in prison for external collusion with the Mafia. Palazzolo, who was the subject of an INTERPOL internationally-wanted persons Red Notice, was arrested in Bangkok on 30 March by Thai authorities with the support of INTERPOL’s Fugitive Investigation Support unit and Italy’s State Police.

“I commend Prefect Manganelli for the leadership and dedication he has shown over the years in working with INTERPOL and countless other law enforcement bodies worldwide to fight transnational organized crime. Italy and the international law enforcement community are lucky to have such a talented and committed professional,” said the Head of INTERPOL.

The Digest of Organized Crime Cases project was launched in 2010 on the tenth anniversary of the Palermo Convention, under the leadership of Italy, of Colombia – whose determination against armed guerilla groups Mr Noble praised at the meeting – and of the UNODC, with the support of INTERPOL.