On the 2nd February 2016 a year after the publication of the scoop which had revealed that the industrialist Antonello Montante was under judicial investigation for Mafia activity, the journalist Attilio Bolzoni spoke at a hearing of the Parliamentary Anti-Mafia Commission chaired by the Hon. Rosy Bindi and described clearly what had been happening since he had published that article when nine months later, on the 30th October 2015 he had enlarged upon its contents illustrating the map of the “Montante system” in another article with the title, “Bribes, the thread which links the godfathers of Sicily to the powers in Rome – Business dealings on the island and the Wednesday summit meetings in the Bernini Hotel. Here are the leading actors in the system now in crisis due to the investigations” (read here).
“I found myself somewhat isolated” he said and he spoke of the silence of the other newspapers.
Read below some of the significant extracts and at this link the entire verbatim text of the hearings of the 2nd February 2016.
ATTILIO BOLZONI: I found myself somewhat isolated because about all these affairs, – if one excludes the intervention of this Parliamentary Anti-Mafia Commission last March when the president announced that the Parliamentary Anti-Mafia Commission would open an inquiry into civil anti-Mafia – it seems paradoxical but we find ourselves here a year later – the media, both local, especially local, and national media have written nothing, (noted by the editor). National media has been inattentive for a long time. I cannot define local media as being inattentive because there are also investigations underway on connections between that group to whom I was referring to and representatives of the press who have received substantial contributions. This is what official documents say so I am not, therefore, revealing anything secret. The most obvious evidence is what they have written during this year: nothing. It is very interesting to read several local newspapers in Sicily. Someone who is accustomed to reading these newspapers knows that sometimes they are full of news, but they are not the real news, they are the news which are not the most important. If one is trained to decipher a premeditated language, one is able to understand what type of information is conveyed . (…)
“I wrote the first article about Confindustria Sicilia and about Montante on the 9th February 2015. One of the first demonstrations of appreciation and solidarity with me came from FAI, the anti-racket federation. Another came from the mayor of Catania with various nuances, another from Legacoop and others followed. I remember these three ..(…).
… during 2015 at a certain point in the affair, the entrepreneur Marco Venturi and the director of IRSAP (the regional institute for economic development) Alfonso Cicero contacted me. It was at the end of July or in August. They were terrorised and they contacted me. They wanted to meet me in a secret place because they were afraid to meet me at the newspaper or at home. I didn’t meet them at their homes in Sicily but they took me by car to other places.
They were really terrorized and began to tell me a series of things about this Sicilian system of Confindustria. One of the first things they told me was exactly this, “They have used, above all regarding the unsung regular work of Cicero, our work and our exposure to put themselves on show”.
For example, I don’t know if I can provide this information.
PRESIDENTE BINDI Do you want to keep it secret?
ATTILIO BOLZONI. I honestly don’t know. The other day the authorities have raided one of the many houses of Montante and have confiscated I don’t know what. His lawyer has stated that he has a memorandum. I have had that memorandum of Montante for several months because I have procured it.
In that memorandum of 420 pages, 380 of the pages were about Cicero. He used all the legal activities of Cicero publicly and within the group, and at the same time he isolated him. All the legal activities conducted publicly by Cicero at IRSAP were used by him but within the group Cicero was isolated. The two businessmen described this to me. I believe that they have told it subsequently to the public prosecutors.. (…)
The first sensation, which for me was not new – as Senator Lumia remembers – is the isolation. It has already happened on other occasions in the last twenty year for me to be involved with other thorny cases of Mafia rather than anti-Mafia but also on the anti-Mafia front. I found myself in this not for one year but .. (…)
I was interested in posing the question. Having posed this question I created various problems for myself, apart from the isolation.
I think I am able to say certain things. I have been stalked for weeks. If policemen are following me I am sure to be unaware of it. They are too competent. But if someone else stalks me I am aware of it and how!. My relatives have been subject to aggression though I don’t know what type. I’ve had problems with the telephone so much so that I’ve officially reported it.
Several things happened to me last spring. I together with another colleague with whom I worked initially on this affair I have been approached by individuals. When there is a heavy atmosphere ….
PRESIDENTE BINDI. Can I ask you another question? Has somebody tried to hinder the investigative work?
ATTILIO BOLZONI. Somebody has tried. Somebody has tried but, fortunately, I work for a newspaper whose chief editor has been impeccable. I had no doubts. Somebody has tried to exercise heavy pressure. Probably he was accustomed to do this with other journalists.
The fact that pressures were exerted energised me a little. I began to work more than usual. Yes, this also happened and in a rather violent way.
In the introductory statement, Bolzoni had said:
“For more than thirty years I’ve concerned myself with Mafia, above all Sicilian Mafia but at a certain point I realised that it was time to concern myself also with anti-Mafia. It was around ten years ago, precisely in 2005 when one morning I woke up in Palermo and saw all the walls of the city carpeted with posters with big black lettering and the face of the governor Totò Cuffaro. The writing said, “The Mafia is disgusting”. At that moment, Cuffaro was under investigation for providing external support to the Mafia, an offence which has subsequently been transformed into abetting the Mafia. As we know, the former senator has been subsequently sentenced, has served his sentence and a few weeks ago became a free man. In those very same years, between 2005 and 2007 I attended as a journalist trials against Palermo Mafiosi who in the courtroom shouted “The Mafia is disgusting” whilst they were being sentenced to seven, eight, nine or ten years of detention for associating with the Mafia. Thus I understood that that slogan, “The Mafia is disgusting” was a joke which the Mafia also liked. The time had ended when the word, “Mafia” wasn’t spoken in Palermo and in Sicily. On the contrary, the men of honour of Cosa Nostra openly exhibited their anti-Mafia pretentions. They tried already then to infiltrate the anti-racket associations, they organised conferences and at time they were the first to sponsor demonstrations against Cosa Nostra.”
(…)Let’s come now to the civil society and the anti-Mafia. Since the modern anti-Mafia exists, namely about thirty years ago, immediately after the murder of General Alberto Dalla Chiesa on the 3rd September 1982, the anti-Mafia has never been so obedient, ceremonial and attracted to power. It survives between liturgies and litanies thanks to a flow of money. Everything that obtains the status of certificated anti-Mafia is transformed into millions or tens of millions of euro, in substantial funding to anti-racket federations, in contributions to enjoy the snow – among the various things I discovered there is an anti-Mafia ski-run at Folgaria it appears. I don’t remember how many tens of thousands of euro were contributed for this – which resulted in a scattering of unprecedented economic resources and in the most arbitrary way.
It is a case of an anti-Mafia being subject to the concessions of PON (the national operative programmes regarding security of the Ministry of the Interior. These programmes, according to me, need verification, a monitoring of the money which is spent and on the unspent funds which return to the European Union. It’s a case of substantial amounts which don’t always follow, according to me, virtuous routes.
We are talking here of an anti-Mafia subject to the benevolence of bureaucrats of the ministry of education who, without public tenders, have for years distributed millions and perhaps tens of millions to schools and which then distribute those sums to associations across the country of the basis of links and deals.
The preservation or the extinction of an anti-Mafia association, of an association named after a murdered policeman or child victim of crime, of the closure of a contact point or a monitoring of the Casalesi clan of the Camorra or a clan of Cosa Nostra, of a museum on the Calabrian ‘ndrangheta always hangs on a thread or a financial conduit. In this way the anti-Mafia has become docile and domesticated. The unwritten pact is always: don’t disturb those currently in power but take the money.
It’s a case of a stationary anti-Mafia, in a permanent pose, conformist, always ready with rhetoric to remember and sanctify its heroes but above all not to remain with empty pockets.
It’s a case of an anti-Mafia which has become a subsidiary. There are no longer “free areas” in the anti_Mafia. In the small associations spread out in every corner of Italy and also in the bigger and more respected associations in recent years there has been a mutation of their DNA. Instead of denouncing there has been a rush for assignments and consultancies. At times an anti-Mafia association has become a trampoline to launch political careers.
Also here one needs to be distinct to avoid confusion, there is a need to proceed step by step without generalising, but I believe that it is rather evident, at least in my opinion, that the anti-Mafia has lost its original spirit. Many associations no longer represent an alternative voice. It is precisely in this moment that here in Italy a need for an alternative voice is felt more than ever. There is an incapacity to pick up and interpret the criminal transformations which are underway in Italy on the part of anti-Mafia associations. (…)