The popular major of Pollica, a town south of Naples on Italy’s Tyrrhenian coast, was assassinated Sept. 6 next to his home in the fishing hamlet of Acciaroli. Angelo Vassallo, noted for his efforts to preserve the environment and for standing up to organized crime, was killed with nine lethal shots as he drove his car. Anti-mafia judge Raffaele Marino stressed that Vassallo paid for his stand on respect of the law.
Vassallo had for many years struggled against local criminal interests that illegally dump toxic and municipal waste in the region and control the real-estate speculation market. Thanks to his relentless work, the historical center of Pollica is now the best-preserved in the area, while the local seaside has been recognized as the region’s cleanest, leading to a tourism boost for the town.
La Repubblica daily reports that according to his brother Vassallo’s death is linked to either the criminal interests on the city’s harbor, or the flourishing drug market in the region. He also states that in the past few months Vassallo had sent several letters—all unanswered—to the police, warning of the growing dangers that he and some of his citizens were facing. He adds that the day before the execution Angelo had talked about the direct connection between some police agents and well-known criminals. (La Reppublica, The Telegraph, Globe & Mail, Sept. 7)
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See our last post on Italy’s crime wars.