Around Naples ever more blatant threats to journalits who report on camorra crimes

The last intimidation of Mimmo Rubio and Giuseppe Bianco surrounded and confronted in a bar in Arzano by a clan boss. A death threat letter from prison to Maria Bertone – The alarm raised by Marilena Natale

OSSIGENO March 30th 2022 – In the north of Naples and in the Caserta area, where the followers of the Casalesi mafia clan are based, the threats to journalists wh0 persist in denouncing the activity of the Camorra and their infiltrations into institutions and legal affairs are becoming more and more explicit and blatant. The same brazenness is shown in attacks on police and anti-mafia activists. This is confirmed by the latest intimidations of the journalist Maria Bertone, director of ‘Cronache’ in Naples and Caserta, and the journalists Mimmo Rubio (under protection for his investigations) and Giuseppe Bianco, both from Arzano (Naples). These episodes are added to similar ones which targeted journalist Marilena Natale in recent months.

A prisoner on life-sentence sent a letter to Maria Bertone containing explicit death threats. It happened almost a year ago, but it has emerged only now. Mimmo Rubio and Giuseppe Bianco found themselves in a bar face to face with a Camorra boss, who with his attitude challenged them in the presence of the officers of the police escort.

THE CONTEXT – The first to raise the alarm regarding these latest episodes was Marilena Natale, speaking on Monday 21st March 2022 at the Ossigeno conference “Rome remembers Ilaria Alpi and the innocent victims of mafia”. The journalist from Aversa, provincial of Caserta, threatened several times and still under police protection, denounced in an impassioned way the climate of heightened tension in these areas due to the bullying of the clans, who increasingly act openly.

“To recount what happens today – Marilena Natale declared (watch the video on YouTube) – is really difficult. I have been living under police escort for five years and only 20 days ago a mobster called me telling me had to stop. But I don’t stop. They can kill me, but not what I said. My colleague Mimmo Rubio on Sunday evening while he was in a bar, with his police escort, was surrounded by a clan boss and his followers. It is a sign that today’s criminals don’t give a damn about us journalists”.

MIMMO RUBIO – On Sunday March 20th 2022, in Arzano (Naples) the mafia boss Giuseppe Monfregolo, his brother and another man, surrounded the journalist Mimmo Rubio who had just entered a bar together with the agents who escort him and his colleague Giuseppe Bianco. Ossigeno has already reported the previous threats against these two reporters (see here).

“They smiled at us and – Mimmo Rubio told Ossigenothey just said defiantly ‘we are here,’. The worrying aspect is that the clan now acts unperturbed. Not even the presence of the police escort deterred them. Just four months ago there was yet another settling of scores in which two people who had the misfortune of being in the wrong place were also injured. Providing local information, reporting about organized crime whilst living in the area, is increasingly difficult and dangerous “.

On March 23rd  Mimmo Rubio and Giuseppe Bianco were heard by the Italian parliamentary anti-mafia commission inside the church of Don Maurizio Patriciello in Caivano, Naples, together with the commander of the municipal police of Arzano, Biagio Chiariello, himself under guard after death threats for  which  a brother of Giuseppe Monfregolo, Mariano, was arrested and held responsible for the threats. (read here). In addition, persons unknown detonated an unsophisticated device in front of the rectory of the anti-mafia parish priest Maurizio Patriciello.

MARIA BERTONE“You know, I was thinking of you. I sincerely hope that I will get out of jail as soon as possible, so that I can blow you up. Now I tell everyone, that if someone comes out before me they have to shoot 10 slugs all in the mouths, of you and all your breed of shit “, wrote Giovanni Cellurale, a lifer from the Casalesi clan, in a letter addressed to the director of “Cronache” Maria Bertone. The letter was sent from the Palermo prison, where he was being held at the time. The Deputy Prosecutor of the District Anti-Mafia Directorate Fabrizio Vanorio has asked for his indictment for these threats. In the preliminary hearing at the Court of Naples on the 29th March 2022, to be continued on the 24th May the requests for a civil action by the journalist and the publisher of the newspaper (Libra Editrice), presented by the lawyer Gennaro Razzino, were accepted.

“In the letter received by our editorial office in Marcianise (Caserta) on August 26th 2021 – Maria Bertone tells Ossigeno – Giovanni Cellurale accused me of not having published a previous letter of his which never arrived. I didn’t give it too much weight, the man had to serve a life sentence, but I submitted a formal complaint with the local police. It was they who pointed out to me that the threat was serious, since it invited those who were out or who would soon be released to act. I am grateful to the official system that immediately acted to set up a very active surveillance by the police of me at home and at work. I am careful, given that in the history of the newspaper other colleagues of ‘Cronache’ have been threatened. I submitted a civil action together with the publisher of the newspaper, and in the next hearing in May the requests of the regional order of journalists of Campania will also be formally presented with its president Ottavio Lucarelli and the Municipality of Aversa (CE), the place  of origin of Giovanni Cellurale, who expressed this threat. We have the support of the institutions, media organizations and ordinary individuals who have been close to us. We will continue to work for them and to report the facts because this is our duty and our mission but we need more support from politicians. Today they express solidarity with us but, on other occasions they have treated us journalists like clay- pigeon shooting.”

SOLIDARITYOssigeno expresses solidarity with the threatened journalists and continues to carefully monitor the phenomenon, publicising it and asking for protection for reporters operating in difficult areas. Solidarity also expressed by the former national Order of Journalists president Carlo Verna, the regional head Ottavio Lucarelli, from the Campania union of journalists Sugc and the FNSI, from the president of the Italian Chamber of Deputies Roberto Fico, from Don Luigi Ciotti of ‘Libera’ and from public bodies. Sandro Ruotolo, senator of the Gruppo Misto political grouping in the Italian Parliament and a journalist who lives under police guard due to threats from the Camorra, commented in a note: “What are we still waiting for? We are confident that the investigations of the judiciary on the criminal clans in the northern area of ​​Naples will be concluded quickly “.

LT – GB

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