Italian Interior Minister threatens to cancel police protection for crimefighting author who criticizes his anti-Roma attitude
Roberto Saviano, the Italian author and journalist whose work has been key to combating the mafia, is criticizing Interior Minister Matteo Salvini's harsh stance against refugees and Romani people. The author has faced death threats for years because of his book about the Camorra mafia in Italy - and last week the Interior Minister said he could lose his police protection.
Italian media reported on the controversy last Friday. Saviano has been under 24-hour police protection since 2006, the year his book Gomorrah was published about the Camorra mafia in Naples and became the subject of a film of the same name ("Gomorra") that won an award at the Cannes film festival. The author investigates organized crime and has become a harsh critic of Salvini, who chairs the recently-rebranded League (Lega) party, primarily because of the Interior Minister's attitudes toward migration and Romani people.
Saviano called Salvini the "minister of the underground" on Facebook. His response to the possibility that the Interior Minister might deprive him of his police protection was vigorous.
"I've been under protection since I was 26. Do you believe you can intimidate me, that you can threaten me? During all these years I have been under enormous pressure from the Casalesi clan (from Camorra in Naples) and from the Mexican drug mafia. I am more afraid of living like this than I am of dying. You believe you could actually intimidate me? You are a fool!" Saviano says in a video posted to Facebook.
"Salvini considers immigrants the enemy. He considers Italians from the south of his own country the enemy. First he insulted them, then during the elections he begged for their votes. He considers Roma the enemy. [...] I am glad to belong among his enemies," the author continues in the video.
"He [Salvini] doesn't recall the ties between Lega Norda and [the organized crime group] 'Ndrangheta. He doesn't recall the laundering of dirty money through Lega Norda and 'Ndrangheta. Suddenly Salvini is talking about money. Italians, according to him, should know how to take better care of their money. Salvini is not telling us where the 50 million euro in state contributions for the elections were actually spent by Lega Norda when they embezzled them. Salvini's Lega should first return that money and then the minister can talk about Italians learning to take better care of their finances," Saviano's video concludes.
Last week the Interior Minister said he is planning a head count of Romani people in the country and the deportation of those who do not have residency documents. Justice Giorgio Lattanzi, the presiding justice of the Italian Constitutional Court, said the plan is unconstitutional.
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