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Page last updated at 11:16 GMT, Tuesday, 29 May 2007 12:16 UK

Married to the Mob

By John Ware
Panorama

CCTV picture of Ann Hathaway visiting her husband in prison
CCTV catches a kiss through glass during a prison visit
I'll say this for Ann Hathaway - meeting her for the first time, she was not exactly what I had in mind as the wife of one of Sicily's most powerful Mafiosi.

And she most certainly did not look the part of a Mafiosa herself - which is what the Italian authorities say she became, helping to run her mobster husband's network.

The Manchester vowels were as pronounced as if she had never left the North West. And the hair-do was long past its best.

She had reluctantly agreed to be interviewed by me in Agrigento jail, perched atop one of those hills that this holiday island is famous for with the most spectacular panorama of lemon groves and countryside rolling out below us.

This was home to about 100 Mafiosi but Ann Hathaway wanted to divorce herself in the public's mind from any of them, following the lurid headlines that appeared in the newspapers after she was extradited from Manchester in January charged with mafia association.

CCTV picture of Ann Hathaway
I've seen every prison in Italy probably, with having my husband in prison, and my two brother-in-laws as well
Ann Hathaway
Having accepted a conviction in return for her freedom, Ann Hathaway was about to be released after our interview.

Her brother Lee had joked that because of the state of her hair, she would be worried she might look like the most notorious woman Manchester has produced in living memory - Myra Hindley.

As we waited for the cameraman to frame his shot against a blank prison wall, I assured her she did not.

How did Agrigento compare to Holloway where she had been held for a few weeks pending her extradition, I wondered?

I asked because we had just had a very agreeable lunch of spaghetti al pomodoro, roast veal, spinach and melon in the prison canteen.

"No comparison," she said, "Holloway was like a grand hotel." John Reid please note.

Normal life

How would she adjust to the drizzle of the North West (compared to Italy), and a life on benefits, a culture she had left behind 28 years ago when she was 17?

She said she could not wait. "I just want to get back to England, back to my normal life, be with my kids, my mum.

"I've seen every prison in Italy probably, with having my husband in prison, and my two brother-in-laws as well."

She certainly looked as if she had had enough of being married to the mob.

And yet her story of ignorance and denials of collusion with a branch of one of the most sinister and secret organisations in the world, does not altogether hang together.

Wedding photo
Happier times. Ann Hathaway and Antonio Rinzivillo's wedding day
For nearly 28 years in Italy, she was the closest person in the world to Antonio Rinzivillo, convicted murderer, drugs trafficker, and extortionist.

Yet she insisted, once the cameras rolled, she had never once asked him a single question about any of this: "Honestly?", I asked? "Never," she said. "And even if I would have asked him, he's not the sort of person that would have turned round and told me."

Ummh. What about the nice house, the cars, the jewellery and the restaurants? Where had all the money for that come from, given that she did not work for much of her married life and husband Antonio was behind bars for most of it?

From friends of her husband, she said, with whom he had been "in business". What kind of business? "Building and construction".

It turns out that one of those friends was Angelo Bernascone, now self-confessed launderer-in-chief of the Rinzovillo clan's dirty money and under police protection for fear of execution by the Rinzivillos.

Sicilian mentality

The Italian authorities say that telephone intercepts show that Ann Hathaway was demanding around 80,000 from Bernascone for a deposit on a flat in Rome.

Buying property has been used to launder Mafia money. This demand was an instruction relayed from Antonio's brother Gino, whom Ann also regularly visited in jail.

It is because of this and other conversations which the intercepts reveal, that the Italians say she was helping the Rinzivillo clan to continue to run their network from jail. She categorically denies this.

One thing is for sure. Back in the bosom of the Rinzivillo clan on the afternoon of her freedom, Ann Hathaway was treated as if she was a blood relative.

She flipped like a light switch between those flat Manchester vowels and the fluent dialect of Sicilian Italian.

"She has the Sicilian mentality" Antonio's sister Anna told me. She too has only just been released from jail.

And what is the Sicilian mentality I wondered? "I'm one of them ones," replied Ann covering her eyes, ears and mouth. "See no..", then she stopped but it was obvious what she meant - see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. I could not have put it better myself.

Panorama: Married to the Mob, Monday 28 May, 8.30pm, BBC1.

video and audio news
Ann Hathaway denies any involvement with the Mafia



SEE ALSO
Transcript: Married to the Mob
29 May 07 |  Panorama
UK wife denies Mafia involvement
28 May 07 |  Manchester

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