Mafia turncoat says funds deposited in Malta
An Italian mafia turncoat testifying about the dumping of nuclear and toxic waste in the Mediterranean Sea said that Malta was one of three countries where the criminal organisation deposited money coming from illegal operations.
A former member of the Calabrian Mafia (ndrangheta), Francesco Fonti admitted in front of an Italian judge that the criminal organisation had sunk ships carrying nuclear and toxic waste in the Mediterranean Sea in the 1980s and 1990s.
The accusations are not new but in the past judges had always archived suspect cases because no proof was ever provided of the sunken ships. However, this changed last Saturday when a submersible robot discovered the wreck of a ship that went down in 1992 with 120 drums of toxic waste. The drums were also visible at a depth of 487 metres.
Mr Fonti admitted he had sunk the cargo ship Cunsky off the Cosenza coast after loading its bow with explosives.
In an interview yesterday on Rainews 24, Mr Fonti said the Mafia was paid good money for running the dumping operation. He alleged that the money than found its way to Switzerland, Cyprus and Malta, without elaborating.
Italian environment group Legambiente said there were between 40 and 100 suspect cases between 1985 and 1995 of ships laden with nuclear and toxic waste that mysteriously sunk in the Mediterranean's deepest points. In each of the cases, the ships never launched a May-day signal and the crew mysteriously disappeared.
The more notable cases include the Maltese-registered cargo vessel Anni, which sank in 1989 off the Ravenna coast in international waters.
Other ships include the Nikos I that vanished in 1985 during a voyage that started in La Spezia for Lome in Togo and sank somewhere between Lebanon and Greece.
Another ship, the Mikigan, sank in the Tyrrhenian Sea in 1986 while carrying suspect cargo.
However, it was the sinking of the Rigel in September 1987 that ignited Legambiente's suspicions and which led to the first judicial investigation into the matter.
The recent discovery of toxic cargo in the depths of the Mediterranean Sea is expected to prompt a re-opening of archived judicial cases.
"Re-opening the cases was important to establish who was responsible for the illegal dumping and to monitor the sea contamination, which could be dangerous for human health and the ecosystems," Nuccio Barilla of Legambiente Calabria was quoted as saying.
1985 - Nikos I sank while travelling from La Spezia to Lome in Togo. It probably disappeared somewhere between Lebanon and Greece.
1986 - The Mikigan sank in the Calabrian area of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
1987 - On September 21, the Rigel sank 20 miles off Capo Spartivento in Calabria.
1989 - The Maltese-registered Anni sinks in international waters off the coast of Ravenna.
1990 - In December, the cargo ship Rosso, formerly known as Jolly Rosso, disappeared below the sea along the Tyrrhenian coast in the province of Cosenza.
1992 - The Cunsky mysteriously sinks off the Cosenza coast. It transpires that it carried 120 drums of toxic waste.
1993 - The Marco Polo vanished in the Sicilian Channel.
1995 - In November, the German ship Koraline sank mysteriously off the coast of Ustica.