Police formed human chains to keep the peace outside a discreet memorial service for a local clan leader after his ostentatious funeral prompted complaints from lawmakers and even the Vatican newspaper that it glorified the mob.
Relatives of Vittorio Casamonica have lashed out at the media for portraying the family as mafiosi. Yesterday, there were scuffles with some journalists outside the church. Last week’s funeral featured a horse-drawn carriage carrying the casket, a helicopter dropping flower petals overhead, and a band playing The Godfather theme song outside the church, which had banners hung on it reading “King of Rome” and “You conquered Rome, now you’ll conquer Paradise.”
In interviews with Italian gossip magazine Oggi, several Casamonica family members acknowledged that some had criminal records. But they denied they were a mafia family and said they were being tarnished by the reputation of other members of the large clan. “If we were mafiosi, how difficult would it have been to go and get the people who disrespected Uncle Vittorio?” Oggi quoted Tony Casamonica, a nephew, as saying. “The real mafia would have already put them in cement.”
Prosecutors have never described the Casamonicas as a “mafia” family in the classic sense, but have said they are the richest and most dangerous local gangsters in Rome with a patrimony of over €90m — much of it obtained through loansharking.
Police said in a statement on the day of the funeral that Vittorio Casamonica was “on the margins” of organised crime, but hadn’t figured in any recent mafia probes.
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