Italy: Matteo Salvini to sue anti-mafia writer critic of migrant policy | News | DW | 20.07.2018
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Italy: Matteo Salvini to sue anti-mafia writer critic of migrant policy

Best-selling author Roberto Saviano has been a rock in Salvini's shoe, regularly denouncing the interior minister's hardline immigration policies. Salvini said he could not tolerate accusations that he enables the mafia.

Italy's far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said on Thursday that he had filed a defamation suit against anti-mafia Italian writer Roberto Saviano, who has been a staunch critic of his policies.

His work exposed Camorra's ties to construction, high fashion, illicit drugs and toxic-waste disposal, and held it responsible for why Campania has the highest murder rate in all of Europe. Due to the numerous death threats he received for his work, Saviano is under regular police protection.

Read more: 'Gomorrah' author Roberto Saviano: How Mafia children become stone-cold killers

Salvini accuses Saviano of accusing him of an alleged support for the mafia. It began when the interior minister said that not everyone who was under police protection deserved it. The minister proposed that all police escorts should be reviewed. This prompted Saviano to call the Salvini "a buffoon" and "minister of the underworld."

A fierce critic of Salvini for his anti-immigration policies, Saviano posted a picture on Twitter this week of a dead woman and child floating in the Mediterranean, questioning "how much pleasure" the interior minister took from the image.

"The hatred you have sown will overthrow you," Saviano wrote.

The tweet drew the ire of Salvini, who then announced on Twitter that he was taking legal action against the author.

"I filed a lawsuit against Saviano, as promised. I accept any criticisms, but I do not allow anyone to say that I help the mafia," Salvini wrote.

Saviano denounced Salvini's lawsuit announcement and accused accusing the far-right minister of being "afraid of critical voices".

"Salvini in court will be called to tell the truth," the writer added.

Read more: Will Italy's refugee stance bring down the EU?

Saviano is best known for his 2006 mafia best-seller "Gomorrah." The book is a non-fiction account of the Camorra mafia, a crime organization that operates in the Italian region of Campania, which surrounds the city of Naples.

Read more: Migrants put mafia mobsters behind bars in Palermo

Salvini had denied that his policy to review police escorts was aimed at removing Saviano's protection, but simply that Italy had currently a record number of people under police protection.

The author felt his own protection threatened by this, and reminded Salvini that for the last 11 years, he had been living "under tremendous pressure, the pressure of the clan of the Casalesi, the pressure of the Mexican narcos," Saviano said.

jcg/rc (AFP, AP)

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