Italy's best-known anti-mafia judge yesterday declared war on corrupt state officials, politicians and even the Vatican, for allowing the country's most feared crime group to colonise the country's industrial heartland.
The unusual public statement by Ilda Boccassini, follows her arrest of fellow magistrate Giuseppe Giglio on Wednesday in a Milan-based probe into the national expansion of the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate.
Mr Giglio, head of the Reggio Calabria court's crime prevention department, was held on suspicion of tipping off 'Ndrangheta members about police activity.
Calabrian regional councillor Francesco Morelli, a member of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PDL) party, was also arrested. Police said that Mr Morelli was "the link between ('Ndrangheta) clans and national political circles".
Ms Boccassini also has Mr Berlusconi in her sights, as she leads the prosecution against him on sex and abuse of office charges.
She warned at a press conference yesterday that 'Ndrangheta was supporting politicians of "whatever persuasion" to gain influence in northern Italy, and added that there may be other mafia moles in Milan's Palace of Justice.
Experts said her comments reflected the growing realisation that the mob could only be fought effectively by going after the army of smaller fish as well as high-level mafiosi.
Veteran political pundit Emanuele Macaluso said yesterday that organised crime was continuing to spread through Italy "like a cancer" thanks to the "white-collar mafia" of acquiescent public officials and politicians.