In a display worthy of the wedding scenes in The Godfather, an elderly Sicilian mafia boss has infuriated the local mayor by throwing a lavish 100th birthday in his hometown.
Notorious criminal Procopio Di Maggio spared no expense with the January 6 celebrations, inviting scores of family and friends to a banquet hall and organising a public fireworks display in the mafia-infested town of Cinisi, near the Sicilian capital Palermo.
As well as hosing his extravagant party, Di Maggio – who is described by local media as “sprightly” despite his age – also spent a large part of his birthday receiving guests at his home, with dozens of people waiting to pay their respects to the mafia don.
So overstated were the celebrations that the fireworks display could be seen as far away as Palermo’s Falcone-Borsellino Airport which, ironically, is named after two famous prosecutors brutally murdered by Di Maggio’s mafia allies in the early 1990s.
The celebrations angered Cinisi mayor Giangiacomo Palazzolo not just because of the embarrassment of having a notorious mafioso flaunting his freedom, but also because the party broke a strict ban on fireworks imposed across Italy over the festive period to limit air pollution.
“Today Di Maggio is harmless, but this story bothers me and I will take action,” Mr Palazzolo told Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper after photographs of the party were widely shared on social media.
Although he is believed to have retired from criminal activities and handed over the reins of Cinisi to a younger don, Di Maggio was once one of the most feared mafia bosses in Sicily.
He was close to the notorious Toto ‘Shorty’ Riina whoseCorleone-based family declared war on the Italian state through a series of car bombings, kidnappings and bloody murders in the 1970s, 80s and early 1990s.
Although the rest of jailed Riina’s closest allies are either dead, in prison or turned government witness, Di Maggio remains the only member of the feared Corleonesi alliance to remain on the streets after being cleared of ordering 12 murders during the famous mafia Maxi Trial in the 1980s.
His lavish celebrations come just months after anti-Mafia campaigners demanded the Catholic Church and Rome’s police chiefs explain how and why the city honoured a notorious mob boss with a Hollywood-style funeral.
The coffin of mobster Vittorio Casamonica, 65, was paraded in a gothic horse-draw carriage on Thursday afternoon, while a hovering helicopter scattered rose petals from above and an orchestra played the theme music of The Godfather.
Outraged anti-Mafia campaigners noted that the dead man was no hero but a prominent member of the Casamonica clan, which is mired in drug trafficking, racketeering and prostitution in the southeast of the Italian capital.