ROME (Reuters) - Mob-related killings in Italy have fallen to their lowest level in decades after organised crime decided it could make more money by keeping a low profile, the government said on Wednesday.
Statistics released on Wednesday showed the number of homicides attributed to organised crime fell to 121 last year.
That compared to 340 people killed in 1992, the year Sicily’s Cosa Nostra used bombs to murder anti-Mafia magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.
Alongside greater efforts by law enforcement officers, Interior Minister Giuliano Amato attributed the fall in homicides to what he called a “Pax Mafiosa” whereby mobsters try to make money without getting their hands bloody.
“Without a doubt (there is) a ‘Pax Mafiosa’, a change in direction of the Mafia,” Amato told reporters.
“It has passed from the rule of racketeers who show up killing people, to the role of businessmen intent on money-laundering, therefore trying not to appear on the radar.”
However, last year’s arrest of the Cosa Nostra’s “boss of bosses”, Bernardo Provenzano, after 43 years on the run could change things for the worse in Sicily, top anti-Mafia prosecutor Piero Grasso said.
Last week, Mafia boss Nicolo Ingarao was gunned down in the city of Palermo, sparking fears a Mafia war was under way to replace Provenzano as Cosa Nostra leader.
Grasso told state-run RAI radio Provenzano’s arrest had created internal problems for the Sicilian Mafia.
“These internal differences lead to that homicidal violence that puts authorities on alert,” he said.
Police are still unscrambling the codes that Provenzano, now in solitary confinement in one of Italy’s most secure prisons, used to identify his crime network.
Provenzano quit school after second grade in the Sicilian hill town of Corleone. He assigned secret numbers for his accomplices and may have used codes taken from his Bible, found brimming with homemade tabs, underlining and annotations.
Code crackers from the FBI’s Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit in the United States are helping examine the Bible.