France and Italy in anti-Mafia talks

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The Independent Online
FRENCH and Italian anti-Mafia investigators met yesterday to discuss organised crime in south-east France, with the murder of a French woman MP last month on the agenda.

Liliana Ferraro, the top Italian magistrate in the fight against the Mafia and other crime syndicates, led the Italian delegation, while Michel Debacq, a former Marseilles magistrate now posted to Rome to liaise with his Italian counterparts, was the chief French representative.

The talks, revealed by a local newspaper yesterday, were held in Aix-en-Provence. While the Justice Ministry in Paris said the meeting had been planned five months ago, the killing on 25 February of Yann Piat, a National Assembly deputy for the centre-right Union for French Democracy (UDF), had been added to the matters under review.

Piat, 44, who had adopted a vociferous stance against corruption in the southern Var department where she had her constituency, was shot dead as she drove to her home in Hyeres. She had been a member of a parliamentary commission reporting on Mafia activities in France. Letters she left led to the questioning of some 40 people, among them prominent local politicians. Bernard Tapie, the entrepreneur and a minister in the last Socialist government, was among those named. He was to see investigators by the end of this week.

The murder of Piat, a former deputy for the National Front who left the party in 1988, has prompted French media discussion of links between crime consortiums and politicians.

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