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Europe

Dutch Police Arrest Top Suspect in Duisburg Mafia Massacre

Dutch police have arrested an Italian man named by authorities as the main suspect for the 2007 murder of six men outside a Duisburg restaurant. The man's brother-in-law was also arrested during the operation.

Bullet holes in windshield

The shooting left six men dead

Suspected Italian mobster Giovanni Strangio, 30, was taken into custody late Thursday in Amsterdam. Strangio was arrested in the town of Diemen, where he has been living with his wife and child in a modest block of apartments.

Strangio is accused of having taken part in a 2007 shooting in which six men were gunned down outside a pizzeria in the western German city of Duisburg.

Italy's Ansa news agency reported that Strangio's brother-in-law Giuseppe Nirta, also wanted for his mafia connections and activity, was also arrested in the joint operation between Dutch, German and Italian police. Measures such as telephone wire tapping and surveillance were used to locate the men.

Authorities believe the killings in Duisburg were the bloodiest episode in a long-running fight between two rival clans of the mafia, Nirta-Strangio and Pelle-Vottari, from Calabria in southern Italy, known as the 'Ndrangheta.

The 'Ndrangheta is considered one of the most powerful Italian mafia groups.

Victims shot in their cars

The shootings in Duisburg grabbed headlines in Germany, underscoring the group's wide network in Europe.

Giovanni Strangio

Strangio had been living a secluded life in a town near Amsterdam

Witnesses said they saw two attackers fire about 70 bullets at the six victims, aged 16 to 39, as they were sitting in their cars after leaving the Da Bruno restaurant in the industrial city.

After the shooting, Strangio and Nirta allegedly fled to Ghent, Belgium where they abandoned a rental car and fell off the radar. According to Renato Cortese, the Italian policeman who coordinated Thursday's arrests, "the two led perfectly normal lives, mingling with people in Amsterdam, but often wearing disguises, including hats and spectacles."

Strangio, his wife Caterina and their son were "getting ready for bed," when police raided their apartment, Cortese told the Italian news agency Ansa.

Police also seized fake passports, other documents and an estimated 1million euros ($1.28 million) in cash and a firearm with ammunition.

Police said they had begun closing in on the whereabouts of the two men after three of Strangio's sisters visited Amsterdam in mid-November 2008.

One of the Duisburg victims was a chief suspect in the December 2006 murder in San Luca, Calabria, of Maria Strangio, the wife of the suspected leader of the Strangio-Nirta clan and cousin of Giovanni Strangio.

The Duisburg hit was believed to have been revenge for the Christmas-time killing of Maria Strangio and the wounding of her son.

Giovanni Strangio ran two pizzerias in Kaarst, Germany, 30 kilometers south of Duisburg, and was believed to be active in the Nirta-Strangio clan. He was one of the most wanted people in both Germany and Italy.

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