Six Italian men fatally shot in the head in Germany

15th August 2007, Comments 0 comments

15 August 2007, DUISBURG, Germany (AP) - Six Italian men were fatally shot in the head in a western German city Wednesday, an execution-style killing that Italy's interior minister said appeared to be part of a long-running feud between two Italian organized crime clans.

15 August 2007

DUISBURG, Germany (AP) - Six Italian men were fatally shot in the head in a western German city Wednesday, an execution-style killing that Italy's interior minister said appeared to be part of a long-running feud between two Italian organized crime clans.

The six victims were found in two vehicles near the main train station in Duisburg in the early morning. One of the men died as paramedics tried to revive him, said Heinz Sprenger, the head of the investigation. All had gunshot wounds to the head.

The men were all of Italian heritage, aged between 16 and 38, said Sprenger. He said three had been living in Duisburg, home to a large Italian community; one was from nearby Muelheim; and two were visiting from Italy.

Sprenger only released the victims' first names and last initials because of German privacy restrictions, identifying them as: Marco P., 19, Sebastiano S., 38, Francesco G., 16, Marco M., 25, Francesco P., 21, and Tommaso-Francesco V., 18.

Italy's ANSA news agency published a similar list with the last names, saying the hit happened after Tommaso Venturi celebrated his 18th birthday at a nearby pizzeria. It identified some of the other victims as Francesco Pergola, Marco Pergola, Marco Marmo and Sebastiano Strangio.

Sprenger confirmed that there had been a birthday celebration, and said Marco P. and Francesco P. were brothers.

In Rome, Interior Minister Giuliano Amato said the slayings apparently were part of a feud between two rival clans involved in the 'ndrangheta crime syndicate, which is based in Italy's southern Calabria region and believed to have international involvement in drug and arms trafficking, extortion and other crimes.

Duisburg has a sizable Italian population. Italy's national soccer team stayed in Duisburg during last year's World Cup, at a hotel run by a Calabrian.

Amato said one of the victims in Duisburg apparently was involved in the original feud, known as the "San Luca feud" for the Calabrian town where it began in 1991.

Italian officials said the exportation of the feud to Germany marked an unprecedented evolution in the 'ndrangheta's operations _ to date confined largely to southern Italy _ and paralleled the international nature of the Sicilian Mafia.

"This is absolutely new," Italy's national anti-Mafia prosecutor Piero Grasso told Sky TG24.

Sprenger would not comment, saying that his office was "investigating all angles."

Investigators from Interpol in Rome left Wednesday for Duisburg to help with the probe, an Interpol spokeswoman in Rome said on customary condition of anonymity.

Police said the two vehicles, a car and a van, had collided in a narrow passage between two office buildings. It was unclear whether the collision occurred before or during the shootings.

The incident apparently happened around 2 a.m.. About a half hour later, police officers found the two vehicles, both of them German-registered.

The victims appear to have been unarmed, Duisburg police spokesman Reinhard Pape said.

Pape said a pedestrian heard a noise and stopped a police patrol car that happened to be in the area.

Police said she reported hearing a bang followed by a noise resembling that made by fireworks and did not immediately think they were gunshots.

Sprenger said that a witness at the scene saw two men leaving the area, and said police were now looking for more people who possibly saw what happened.

Numerous gun cartridges were found at the crime scene _ about 100 meters from the train station, and close to an Italian restaurant.

"There must have been more than one person involved," Pape said.

ANSA, the Italian news agency, quoted Reggio Calabrian prosecutor Salvatore Beomi as saying Italian police expected that there would be more blood.

"We couldn't know where or when, but we were sure that there would be other deaths," he said. "In a certain sense it was a pre-announced massacre. What we couldn't have forseen was this spectacular escalation of criminal activity and the exportation of the feud abroad."

Italy's vice interior minister Marco Minniti said it was well known among German officials that the 'ndrangheta was active in Germany.

"That there is the presence of the 'ndrangheta in Germany is something fairly well known," he said, noting that Italian police and prosecutors were active in monitoring what he called the "economic penetration of the 'ndrangeta in Germany."

The most probable origin of the term 'ndrangheta derives from the Greek andrangathia, which means heroism, virtue or courage. The term, though, may come from a name for a huge geographical area between Calabria and Basilicata.

AP

Subject: German news

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