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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 February 2007, 13:10 GMT
Italian police foil Mafia plot
By Christian Fraser
BBC News, Rome

Bernardo Provenzano
Police say Bernardo Provenzano ordered the killing in 2000, while still at large
Police in Sicily have charged two men who allegedly were involved in a plot to kill the former head of Italy's anti-Mafia Committee.

According to the police, the plan to kill Giuseppe Lumia had been approved by the Godfather, Bernardo Provenzano, who was jailed last year.

The plot was uncovered by local Mafia investigators who had been questioning a Mafia turncoat.

Provenzano is being held in isolation at a high security jail.

In recent years the Cosa Nostra - another name for the Mafia - have kept a reasonably low profile.

There's still the same level of extortion and corruption but the theory within Sicily was that if the Mafia concentrated on its own day to day business, the state would largely leave it alone.

Mafia in decline

Its operations were badly disrupted during the early 1990s following the high profile murders of two senior anti-Mafia judges, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.

The new boss, Bernardo Provenzano, who was a fugitive for more than 40 years before his arrest in 2006, had supposedly decided that a war with the state was not in the best financial interests of the Cosa Nostra. Or did he?

Giovanni Falcone
Anti-Mafia judge Giovanni Falcone was assassinated in 1992

We now discover there was an advance plot to assassinate one of the most senior figures of the anti-Mafia Parliamentary Committee.

The information comes from Antonino Giuffre, one of Provenzano's right hand men, who has been collaborating with investigators since his arrest in April, 2002.

The plan to kill Giuseppe Lumia, says Giuffre, was decided at the very highest level. Provenzano asked me about it quite casually, he said.

He asked me: "when are you going to kill him"?

"You know my position," said the boss, "if you say it's ok, then let's do it, it's your territory." Giuffre confirmed that he'd gone along with the plan but had delayed so he could evaluate the damage it would cause to his own interests.

On Thursday the local Mafia directorate acting on Giuffre's information asked the local judge to bring further charges against two Mafia members, already in prison.

They are the men alleged to have been involved in bringing in the arms to kill Mr. Lumia.

Police say the Kalashnikov rifles and the ammunition they smuggled in are still in the hands of the Mafia in Palermo.


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