Thetimes.co.uk STRONG LINKS between Italy’s secretive freemasons and the mafia have been exposed by police raids, with 193 crime bosses found to be members of lodges in Calabria and Sicily. The investigation has confirmed long-standing accusations by magistrates and mob turncoats that freemason lodges in southern Italy are often venues for secret deals with corrupt judges, politicians and business owners.
The mafia’s enthusiastic participation in freemasonry “has led some to believe that the two have become one and the same”, according to a report this month from an anti-mafia parliamentary commission. Masons were “acquiescent” and “tolerant” of the takeover, it added. The raids were ordered after the heads of Italy’s four main freemasonry orders refused to hand over their membership lists. “It was impossible to get them to collaborate,” said Davide Mattiello, a member of the commission. “Mobsters are joining the masons to meet people who hold power. We need to know how aware of this the masons are.”
The commission’s call for masons to make their secret membership lists public was contested by Stefano Bisi, grand master of the Grande Oriente d’Italia, the biggest order in southern Italy. “The order is ready to defend its sacrosanct right to existence and to maintain the privacy of its members,” he said. The synergy is reputedly most intense in two towns in western Sicily, Castelvetrano and Trapani, where masons have allegedly helped the mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro to stay on the run for 24 years. Mob-masonry ties are also strong in Calabria, where the local mafia sends members of its top tier committee to do business at lodge meetings, the commission said. In Locri, a Calabrian town notorious for its ties to organised crime, 18 out of 75 members of a local lodge were linked to the mafia.
The report said that the mafia felt at home in the masonry because the organisations shared a passion for keeping secrets and holding ritual ceremonies. National elections are to be held in March and after that a new anti-mafia parliamentary commission will be appointed. “We only checked in Sicily and Calabria. I hope the next commission will check lodges throughout Italy, because mob infiltration is likely to be a national problem,” said Mr Mattiello.