03:42 GMT +321 September 2019
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    Angelino Alfano

    Sicily Mafia Thwarted in Minister Assassination Bid

    © AFP 2019 / Andreas Solaro
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    Italian police have arrested six members of Sicily's notorious Cosa Nostra mafia on Friday, after uncovering a plot to assassinate Italy's Interior Minister Angelino Alfano.

    In dramatic scenes, military police made the arrests in a dawn raid in Corleone, a small hill town in Sicily that has been synonymous with the Mafia for decades.

    So much so that the town's reputation has transcended onto the silver screen. It's the birthplace of several fictional characters in The Godfather, most notably Vito (Andolini) Corleone.

    Police say that the six suspects in custody were intent on adding to the town's violent history.

     They claim intelligence gleaned by wiretapping the phones of mafia members, revealed that there were plans to kill Mr Alfano, one of Italy's highest ranking cabinet officials, and a Sicily-born minister, during an electoral rally in Sicily.

    A source told Reuters that one Cosa Nostra ('Our Thing') gang member was recorded being very explicit.

    "If it's all agreed, we'll hit him, right in the head."

    Mr Alfano has been calling for jail sentences for people convicted of mafia association to be toughened.

    Italy already has a stringent Article 41-bis prison regime, which isolates inmates completely.

    One convict imprisoned in these conditions is the very colorful and ruthless Mafia king Salvatore "Toto" Riina. All six suspects are linked to Mr Riina, nicknamed "The Beast" for his ruthlessness and brutality.

    Once the "capo di tutti capi" (boss of bosses) of the powerful Corleonesi faction of the Mafia, Riina is serving multiple life-sentences after being convicted of several murders, including the assassination of rival gangsters.

    Italian politicians have sent Mr Alfano messages of support in response to the news. Defense Ministry Undersecretary Gioacchino Alfano said "threats don't frighten people like Angelino Alfano, who have always stood firm against organized crime."

     "We are all with Alfano against all mafia."

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    Tags:
    murder, crime, jail, assassination plot, politician, organized crime, mafia, Angelino Alfano, Sicily, Italy
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