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Acid Bath Threat Prompts Fall of a Roma Crime Clan

One mafia ex-wife was threatened with an acid bath. Another found herself menaced regularly with a k..

One mafia ex-wife was threatened with an acid bath. Another found herself menaced regularly with a knife to her throat, wielded by her own mother-in-law, the boss of Romes legendary Roma – or Gypsy – crime clan.

Now they are cooperating with Italys anti-mafia police and spilling the secrets of a brutal and turbulent crime syndicate which served partly as the model for the Spadino family in the Netflix blockbuster Suburra.

Like their fictional counterparts, the Casamonica clansmen, overseen by 65-year-old matriarch, Gelsomina Di Silvio, are loan sharks and drug dealers and racketeers and they are not sparing in meting out extreme violence when crossed. Last week, police swept up 20 clan members in dawn raids across the Italian capital using intelligence given to them from ex-wives of clansmen who turned fully cooperating informants.

Bling

The police squads seized $22.5 million worth of assets during the raids on homes featuring faux-classical statues and gilded furniture, and the kind of bling that would make the eyes pop of even the most ostentatious of New York crime family or Latin American drug cartel.

The Casamonica clan has long been in the sights of Italian police —and the Italian media. In 2015, the family staged a movie-like funeral for its patriarch Vittorio Casamonica with a helicopter dropping rose petals and a band bashing out the theme music of “The Godfather.”

Two years ago, authorities demolished eight illegally built villas of the family in a southeastern Rome district. The demolition was observed by then-interior minister Matteo Salvini and Nicola Zingaretti, governor of Lazio region, which encompasses the Italian capital.

Abused women

The raids followed court testimony earlier this year by the ex-wives, Debora Cerreoni and Simona Zakova. Neither of the women are Roma — unusual for the Casamonicas, who normally marry relatives. Zakova is a Czech national.

Part of the ill treatment the women received from family members — including their partners — appears to have stemmed from their outsider status. Much as Britains royal family has learned, marrying outside a trusted circle can spell trouble, said an Italian police commander.

The abuse the women were receiving may have doomed the family. The women have been happy to avenge their ill treatment by telling all to the prosecutors — information that is being lapped up by the Italian press. On Saturday, Gelsomina Di Silvio remained defiant during a video-linked court hearing, but seemed surprised to learn that the long list of charges already filed against her, and 44 other clan members held by the authorities before last weeks raids, was going to be expanded.

“When she heard of the additional charges to be added to the heavy ones that have already been brought against her, Di Silvio had a moment of panic,” noted Roman newspaper Il Messaggero. “Then, however, she recomposed herself,” the newspaper reported. She pronounced she would not collaborate with the investigators.

The ex-wives have clearly pointed to Gelsomina Di Silvio as being the commanding figure in the clan since the 2015 death of Vittorio. She would act as the peace broker in a family constantly at war with itself. “The different branches of the family are jealous of each other, but when there is a problem they come together, united,” one of the ex-wives said in court testimony. “They are like a wolf pack. Thats how they work,” she added.

Acid

Much of the public and media focus has been on the kind of lives the former wives endured. “They ruined my life,” she told a court in January. “They threatened to dissolve me in acid,” said Debora Cerreoni.

Zakova has spoken about how she was a virtual prisoner and was not allowed to leave the family compounds, unless accompanied, when Massimiliano, Gelsomina Di Silvios son, was in jail. Zakova said her mother-in-law would press a knife to her throat. “She is violent, she commands. She is not normal, she is the devil incarnate,” she told prosecutors.

Cash only

Among other things, the ex-wives told police where to find the account books detailing loansharking deals. And the pair told them that family homes were awash with cash. “They always keep their money in cash – they don’t use bank accounts or invest it because they always fear having it seized by the authorities,” Zakova told police. Millions of euros were stashed behind false walls.

Clan members spend lavishly on lavish things — from expensive $50,000 Rolex watches to $4,000 Chanel handbags. According to the 32-year-old Zakova, “At Gucci there is someone who serves them, who is there just for the Casamonicas.”

Aside from their love of bling, family members enjoy eating sushi and frequent Russian restaurants in the Italian capital — possibly to conduct business with Russian crime gangs, some police suspect.

Gelsomina Di Silvio used to frequent for afternoon tea Romes five-star Eden hotel, part of the Dorchester group. “Often the Casamonicas pick up goods from businesses without paying by relying on the fact that, for fear, no one will report them and consequently determine a constant condition of subjugation and silence,” Zakova reported.

The clans biggest gripe reportedly is with the Italian mafias farther south, the Camorra of Naples and Calabrias Ndrangheta, trying crowd them and trespass on what the family sees as its turf — Rome. In one intercepted phone conversation, made public in court testimony, Guido Casamonica, is heard complaining: “The Neapolitans want to come to Rome, the Camorra wants to get in here, and the Calabrians want to come, too.”

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Woman dies after knifeman stabs three in Norway; suspect arrested

Issued on: 15/07/2020 – 05:43

Norwegian police said Wednesday they had arrested one person after m..

Issued on: 15/07/2020 – 05:43

Norwegian police said Wednesday they had arrested one person after multiple women were stabbed, one of whom reportedly succumbed to her wounds, in the city of Sarpsborg south of Oslo.

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Shortly before midnight on Tuesday, Norwegian police wrote on Twitter that they had received reports of "multiple people that have been stabbed in multiple locations in Sarpsborg."

Police later said that three women had been stabbed, with two receiving critical injuries, and that one person had been arrested.

Several Norwegian media outlets reported that one of the women had died of her injuries.

According to broadcaster NRK, one of the victims reportedly recognised the assailant and one person was arrested at an undisclosed address in central Sarpsborg.

The motive was not immediately known, but according to local newspaper Sarpsborg Arbeiderblad, the husband of one of the vicRead More – Source

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16 years old and stuck in solitary confinement 23 hours a day because of coronavirus

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Poland Presidential Election Likely Heading to Courts

Poland’s incumbent President Andrzej Duda, a social conservative aligned with the ruling populist La..

Poland’s incumbent President Andrzej Duda, a social conservative aligned with the ruling populist Law and Justice Party (PiS), secured a second term in office Sunday with a narrow margin of victory after an ill-tempered, mudslinging presidential race.

His challengers supporters said they plan to contest the election result in Polands courts, a legal tussle likely to worsen the bitter polarization of the country.

After a tight runoff race, Duda won 51.21% of the vote, while his opponent, Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski of the liberal Civic Platform Party, took 48.79%. The preliminary result was declared with 99.97% of polling stations reporting. The electoral commission said the votes yet to be counted will not materially affect Dudas overall win.

The incumbents secured reelection was the slimmest victory margin for any presidential victor since the end of communism in 1989.

“I think there will certainly be electoral protests, and I think the whole issue will end up in the Supreme Court,” political scientist Anna Materska-Sosnowska told the Agence France-Presse news agency.

Dudas political opponents claimed voting “irregularities” in polling stations and said many Poles living overseas did not receive ballots in time to vote.

Polish President and presidential candidate of the Law and Justice (PiS) party Andrzej Duda holds up a bouquet after the announcement of the first exit poll results on the second round of the presidential election in Pultusk, Poland, July 12, 2020.

Polish President and presidential candidate of the Law and Justice (PiS) party Andrzej Duda holds up a bouquet after the announcement of the first exit poll results on the second round of the presidential election in Pultusk, Poland, July 12, 2020.

Despite the closeness of the race, Dudas supporters said he won a clear mandate since the turnout was high — just under 70%. They said his win opens the path for the PiS to continue with contentious reforms of the judiciary and media regulations, which have raised the ire of the European Union. If Trzaskowski had won, he would have been able to block some legislation by using a presidential veto.

“Winning the presidential election with 70% of turnout is excellent news,” Duda said at an event in Pultusk on Sunday. “I’m very moved.”

Trzaskowski said, “Weve already won, regardless of the final result. We have managed to wake up. We have managed to create new hope.”

Pollsters had said the race was too close to call in the days leading up to voting. The election campaign centered on Dudas promise to ban LGBTQ education in schools and his refusal to endorse same-sex marriage or gay adoption.

The incumbent president enjoyed a commanding lead in opinion polls before the coronavirus pandemic impacted Poland. Pollsters say Duda would have likely won more votes if the election, which was delayed because of the pandemic, had taken place in May as scheduled.

Oxford University-educated Trzaskowski, the candidate of the Civic Coalition (KO) alliance, the countrys main centrist opposition bloc, proved to be an energetic campaigner and hoped to pull off a win by uniting all opposition parties behind his challenge.

The race became so toxic that neither candidate would agree to debate each other in person on the eve of the vote, choosing instead to hold one-man “debates” on separate television channels at the same time.

Poles were not the only ones watching the election closely. This is the first nationwide poll in Europe, aside from Frances recent municipal elections, since the coronavirus arrived in Europe, and is being seen by some as a possible bellwether on the strength of social conservatism in Europe.

Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, presidential candidate of the main opposition Civic Platform (PO) party, reacts after the announcement of the first exit poll results on the second round of the presidential election in Warsaw, Poland, July 12, 2020.

Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, presidential candidate of the main opposition Civic Platform (PO) party, reacts after the announcement of the first exit poll results on the second round of the presidential election in Warsaw, Poland, July 12, 2020.

Dudas campaign matched the style of electioneering and political agenda pursued by Hungarys firebrand anti-migrant populist Viktor Orbаn, one combining social conservatism emphasizing “family values” and criticism of the European Union.

Like Orbаn, Duda and the PiS claim national sovereignty is being undermined by globalization, and nation states and their traditional cultures and lifestyles are being weakened by bankers and urban elites.

His victory will hearten fellow populists in neighboring European countries where there is a strong electorate for social conservatism and generous state handouts.

Like Orbаn, Duda and the PiS have been accused by domestic critics and Brussels of eroding democratic checks and balances, of seeking to curb judicial independence and of expanding state control over the media and civil society.

But as in Hungary, generous welfare schemes have been credited with recent election wins by conservative nationalists. Analysts deem social spending as a big factor in Dudas reelection.

The campaign exposed clear political and cultural fault-lines in Poland. The countrys weekly Polityka magazine said the contest came down to the “young against old, cities against countryside.” Dudas voters are older and concentrated in rural areas in the strongly Catholic east of the country. Younger voters in the west and in larger towns and cities voted largely for his challenger.

Some commentators expect the win will trigger moves by the PiS to limit foreign ownership of Polands private media outlets. During the campaign, Duda and his backers chafed at criticism of the PiS by foreign-owned media companies, especially German ones. Railing against “foreign interference” at one rally, he accused Germany of trying to choose Polands president.

Duda focused his attacks on Fakt, a Polish tabloid partly owned by the German Axel Springer publishing group. His critics say foreign-owned media is a needed counterweight to state-owned Polish television, which they say acts as a mouthpiece for the PiS.
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