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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 March, 2004, 11:03 GMT
Australia city fears gangland war
Melbourne
Melbourne's gangland feud started in January 1998
The authorities in the Australian city of Melbourne fear an escalation in a gangland war after another killing on Tuesday.

Andrew "Benji" Veniamin, 28, was shot dead in an Italian restaurant.

A former heavyweight boxer, Dominic "Mick" Gatto, has been arrested for the killing which he said was carried out in self-defence.

Veniamin was the 22nd victim in a gangland war that started in 1998 with the murder of a self-styled godfather.

Alphonse Gangitano was shot dead in the laundry of his home sparking off a spate of killings carried out by rival groups.

Veniamin was suspected by police of being a hit man involved in a number of deaths, and many had suspected that he himself would soon be a target.

Melbourne Gang War
Started 1998
Sparked by Godfather's murder
22 deaths so far
Most killings unsolved
"Last year he actually indicated to us that in his view, if he was murdered, we shouldn't even bother investigating that," said Assistant Police Commissioner Simon Overland.

Mr Gatto has been charged with murder and remanded in custody to reappear on 14 July.

His lawyers said they would appeal for bail.

"We hope there aren't any more murders, but what we are hoping for is an outbreak of common sense from the underworld," said Assistant Commissioner Overland.

Police have expressed fears that members of the public could get hurt if the violence continues.

The killings were initially carried out away from public view but in June 2003, the feud took a dangerous turn when two men were gunned down in a car in a car park with five children in the back seat.

Tuesday's killing was carried out in a restaurant in front of diners.


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