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A black funeral carriage drawn by six horses in Rome's Mafia funeral
Image: picture-alliance/AP-Photo/M. Percossi

Mafia funeral sparks outrage in Rome

August 21, 2015

The flashy funeral of an alleged mafia boss has left Italian politicians and media furious. It is the latest in stream of mafia-related scandals to rock Rome this summer.

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The extravagant funeral of purported mafia boss Vittorio Casamonica had Italian officials fuming on Friday. Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's government has launched an investigation into the proceedings while others have called for Rome's mayor to resign.

The funeral procession included an ornate, black hearse pulled by six decorated horses, a police escort and a band playing the "Godfather" theme outside of a Roman Catholic basilica. Additionally, around 500 mourners were showered with rose petals dropped from a helicopter along the funeral route.

Signs on the church read: "You have conquered Rome, now conquer paradise." Other posters pictured the late Casamonica dressed in white, papal attire and labeled him the "King of Rome." He was 65 years-old when he passed away after battling cancer.

Although he was never formally convicted of being a mafia don, Casamonica was the alleged head of his family's crime network. The Casamonica clan is reportedly known for running drugs and extortion rings in the southeastern sections of Rome for the past several decades.

In response to the funeral on Thursday, Rome's Mayor Ignazio Marino tweeted that it was "intolerable that funerals should be turned into a message of the living to launch mafiosi messages."

Mourners cry outside of Casamonica's extravagent funeral
Despite the extravagance, hundreds of attendees behaved solemnly throughout the serviceImage: picture-alliance/AP-Photo/M. Percossi

Summer of scandal

The funeral was the latest scandal to hit Rome after a summer of public transportation break-downs and reports linking dozens of politicians to organized crime. The Casamonica family has also been accused of controlling politicians and infiltrating Rome's government.

Lower house speaker Renato Brunetta is calling for Mayor Marino's resignation and a statement to parliament explaining how "an obscene chain of silence and incompetence" allowed the funeral to take place.

Italy's interior minister, Angelino Alfano, also demanded a full report from city officials to see if the procession violated any laws, while the city's police chief admitted to "a failure in the system" which allowed the spectacle and police escort to take place.

The helicopter pilot involved in the spectacle didn't manage to escape the authorities' notice either: Italy's civil aviation authority suspended his license for flying too close and too low over the capital.

rs/kms (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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