Page last updated at 13:34 GMT, Thursday, 18 September 2008 14:34 UK

'Mafia clan boss' seized in Italy


Italian police say they have arrested a key suspect in a mafia vendetta that led to six deaths in Germany last year.

Francesco Pelle, 32, was seized at a clinic in Pavia in northern Italy. He is believed to be a godfather in the Calabrian mafia, the 'Ndrangheta.

Police believe he ordered a 2006 attack in southern Italy, during which the wife of a rival mafia boss was killed.

They say the 2007 killings in Duisburg, Germany, were then ordered to avenge her death.

Six Italian men, all linked to an 'Ndrangheta clan, were gunned down outside a pizza restaurant in the German city on 15 August.

The feud dates back to an egg-throwing incident in the southern Italian town of San Luca in 1991, when a fight broke out which left two young men dead and another two injured.

The rivalry between the two 'Ndrangheta clans has continued, leaving as many as 20 people dead.

Dozens of suspects accused of links to the two rival clans will go on trial in October and November.

The 'Ndrangheta has become one of the most powerful criminal organisations in Italy, having overtaken the Sicilian mafia, the Cosa Nostra, in the expansion of its European drug trafficking activities, correspondents say.

They say that unlike the Cosa Nostra, the Calabrian crime syndicates remain under traditionally tight family control and police find it difficult to infiltrate their activities using normal investigative techniques.

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