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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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Green, left-wing Michèle Rubirola becomes Marseilles first woman mayor

Issued on: 05/07/2020 – 11:00Modified: 05/07/2020 – 11:01

Marseille became the latest French munic..

Issued on: 05/07/2020 – 11:00Modified: 05/07/2020 – 11:01

Marseille became the latest French municipality to elect a Green mayor on Saturday, in a wave that has swept the country since local elections at the end of last month.

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Michèle Rubirola, the first female leader of Frances second city, won the most votes from city councillors, ending almost a week of suspense after the June 28 poll that failed to give her slate an absolute majority.

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Italy could transfer migrants from Ocean Viking rescue ship on Monday

Issued on: 05/07/2020 – 10:07Modified: 05/07/2020 – 10:16

Italy is carrying out tests on 180 migra..

Issued on: Modified:

Italy is carrying out tests on 180 migrants rescued in the Mediterranean with a view to transferring them to a quarantine vessel in Sicily, an interior ministry source said Saturday.

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The migrants have been on the Ocean Viking ship operated by SOS Mediterranee for over a week, with fights and suicide attempts on board prompting the charity to declare a state of emergency on Friday.

A medical team sent by authorities in Pozzallo, Sicily “ascertained the absence of particular health problems and also reported that some tensions that had been registered on the ship are being overcome”, the ministry source said.

The medical team is testing the migrants for the Covid-19 virus after which they will be transferred to a quarantine ship currently in Porto Empedocle, also in Sicily.

“The situation is carefully monitored in view of the transhipment of migrants, scheduled for Monday 6 July, on the Moby Zaza ship,” the source said.

The Ocean Viking, which has been in limbo in the Mediterranean south of Sicily, has been waiting for permission from Italy or Malta to offload the migrants at a safe port.

Italy could transfer migrants from Ocean Viking rescue ship on Monday

Tensions have risen in the past week, as witnessed by an AFP reporter aboard the boat, as migrants have become increasingly desperate to reach land. Others have become distraught at not being able to telephone their families to let them know they were safe.

SOS Mediteranee said in a statement on Saturday that “the only assistance proposed has been a visit by a medical doctor and a cultural mediator who spoke to the survivors but are not in a position to present a solution for their disembarkation.”

The migrants, which include Pakistanis, North Africans, Eritreans, Nigerians and others, were picked up after fleeing Libya in four separate rescues by the Ocean Viking on June 25 and 30.

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Air France to cut 7,580 jobs at French flagship carrier and regional unit Hop!

Issued on: 03/07/2020 – 20:16Modified: 03/07/2020 – 20:16

Air France confirmed plans to cut some 7..

Issued on: 03/07/2020 – 20:16Modified: 03/07/2020 – 20:16

Air France confirmed plans to cut some 7,500 jobs including 1,000 at sister airline Hop! on Friday, as staff protested over its response to the collapse in travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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The French flag carrier, part of Franco-Dutch group Air France-KLM, said it had lost €15 million a day during the worst part of the crisis, which also saw its revenues plunge by 95 percent. It did not see traffic returning to 2019 levels before 2024.

As a result, Air France plans to cut 6,560 or 16 percent of jobs at the main airline by the end of 2022, more than 3,500 of which will come through natural departures, it said after union talks.

Another 1,020 jobs will go over the next three years at Hop!, representing 42 percent of staff at the regional carrier based in the coastal city of Nantes, which has also been hit by job cuts at plane manufacturer Airbus.

The French government – which granted Air France €7 billion ($7.9 billion) in aid, including state-backed loans, to help it to survive – has urged the airline to avoid compulsory layoffs, though it has conceded Air France is "on the edge”.

"A successful labour reorganisation is one where there are no forced departures," junior economy minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher told Sud Radio on Friday.

In its statement, Air France said it would give priority to voluntary departures, early retirement and staff mobility. It did not rule out compulsory redundancies, however.

The reconstruction plan will be presented at the end of July, together with a plan for the wider Air France-KLM Group.

This is not how I wanted to leave

Some 100 union members and employees, from cleaning staff to check-in assistants, demonstrated earlier outside the airline's base at Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris against plans to cut staff after receiving state aid to absorb the pandemic fallout.

Air France employees gather to protest a restructuring plan that includes thousands of job cuts in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis outside the French airline's headquarters in Roissy-en-France near Paris on July 3, 2020. The sign at right reads, "Not born to end up in the dumpster.” © Gonzalo Fuentes, Reuters

"It's scandalous. The government is putting in €7 billion and the compRead More – Source

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