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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 November, 2004, 16:08 GMT
No Mafia links to Italy policeman
Funeral of judge Giovanni Falcone
The deaths of Falcone and Borsellino shocked Italy
An Italian police officer has been cleared of charges that he had links with the Sicilian Mafia.

Carmelo Canale played a key part in the 1980s battle against organised crime, but was accused of passing information to the people he was investigating.

However, the court found that the evidence against him was not enough to secure a conviction.

In the 1980s, Sicily was a battleground between the Mafia and a team of police and investigating magistrates.

Two magistrates in particular, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, won the confidence of a handful of arrested mafiosi and convinced them to break the organisation's bond of silence.

On the basis of their evidence, 344 Mafia men were jailed for a total of more than 2,600 years.

First Falcone, then Borsellino, were killed by Mafia bombs during the summer of 1992.

Carmelo Canale was an officer in the paramilitary Carabinieri at the time, and Paolo Borsellino's right-hand man.

When he was charged with Mafia links - on the basis of ex-Mafia men's evidence - Borsellino's widow is reported to have said it was as if they had killed her husband all over again.

Gangs not beaten

Mr Canale has always denied the charges.

"I have always been in the right, and have never betrayed anyone," he said, quoted by AFP news agency. "I have been supported by all of Borsellino's team."

The policeman's court appearance came just days after a television reconstruction of the work of the anti-Mafia magistrates - and amid plenty of reminders that organised crime in Italy is far from beaten.

In the past week, Naples - home to its own criminal network, the Camorra - has seen shootouts, six deaths and an emergency security summit.

Over the same period, police arrested six people, including two former MPs, two judges and a journalist, on suspicion of having links with what is acknowledged to be the most dangerous criminal organisation in Italy today - the 'Ndrangheta of Calabria, on the south-western tip of the Italian mainland.

Two current MPs - including the deputy chairwoman of parliament's anti-Mafia committee - are also under investigation.


SEE ALSO:
Law students take on the Mafia
06 Nov 04 |  Europe
Italy launches anti-mafia raids
22 Sep 04 |  Europe


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