Mafia shooting victims 'to have church funerals'

The bodies of three of the six victims of last week’s Mafia killings in Germany have arrived in Italy, as authorities debated how to handle security at the funerals amid fears of new mob violence.

The bodies of three of the six victims of last week’s Mafia killings in Germany have arrived in Italy, as authorities debated how to handle security at the funerals amid fears of new mob violence.

Officials decided late yesterday that the families could have church funerals for the victims, as they had requested, but said they could not have the traditional procession of caskets through San Luca to the cemetery, the ANSA and Apcom news agencies reported.

The services would be closed to the media, Apcom said. Officials at the Calabrian prefect’s office refused to confirm the reports.

The six men, aged 16 to 38, were shot dead on August 15 in Duisburg, Germany, the latest chapter in a feud between two clans of the ’ndrangheta, the Calabrian version of the Sicilian Mafia, who live in the tiny Calabrian town of San Luca.

Authorities have said the shootings were likely retaliation for the Christmas 2006 shooting death in San Luca of Maria Strangio, a mob boss’s wife. Security has been beefed up around San Luca amid fears of a vendetta attack against the allies of those responsible for the killings in Germany.

Coffins carrying the remains of three of the victims, Marco Marmo, Francesco Giorgi and Sebastiano Strangio, arrived yesterday evening at Rome’s Leonardo Da Vinci airport from Germany, airport officials said. They were expected to be driven down to Calabria, the toe of boot-shaped Italy, this morning.

Relatives of the victims urged authorities to let them grieve with a proper funeral. Italian news reports said officials had considered restricting the funerals to services in the cemetery as a security measure.

“Let us have my son’s funeral in church, and let him have the holy blessing for the last time,” Giovanni Giorgi, father of Francesco Giorgi – the youngest victim – told RAI state television.

The San Luca pastor, the Rev. Pino Strangio, concurred. “We should at least give them this particular attention at such a painful time,” he told RAI.

The remains of two other victims, brothers Francesco Pergola and Marco Pergola, were expected to arrive in Italy today and to be buried in their hometown of Siderno, ANSA said. The sixth victim, Tommaso Venturi, was expected to be buried in Germany, where he lived with his family.

German investigators have determined that at least two people carried out the attack, and that the victims didn’t shoot back. They were killed after they left Venturi’s 18th birthday party at an Italian restaurant in central Duisburg.

The ’ndrangheta is linked to crime around the world, and is considered today even more dangerous than the Sicilian Mafia.

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