Mafia join Italy’s freemasons to "do deals" with judiciary 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.

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