Naples rubbish crisis turns nasty

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The Independent Online

Anger over Naples' refuse crisis took a macabre turn yesterday as residents awoke to find 21 tailor's dummies resembling Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi and town mayor Rosa Jervolino dangling from trees and lampposts.

Anti-terrorist police from the Digos, Italy's equivalent of Special Branch, said the home-made dummies were hoisted on the trees overnight by militants from a branch of the right-wing opposition party, the National Alliance.

Many of the mannequins in the southern city carried placards bearing the words Addio a 'stu munno 'e munnezza Neapolitan dialect for "Good riddance to this rubbish."

Placards pasted around the Bay of Naples also attacked the powerful left-wing president of the regional government, Antonio Bassolino.

Mr Bassolino, together with Ms Jervolino and Mr Prodi's fragile centre-left government, have failed repeatedly to find a solution to thousands of tonnes of rubbish which have been piling up in the streets of Naples and surrounding towns in recent months.

This week the EU Environment Commissioner, Stavros Dimas, warned Mr Prodi that Brussels was planning sanctions against Italy unless his government acted speedily to end the environmental and health risk posed by the mounting trash. The latest crisis, a repeat of one which led to clashes between Neapolitans and police three years ago, is due to the fact that the Campania region produces more rubbish than it can dispose of acceptably.

Nearby landfills are saturated and residents oppose the construction of new dumps and incinerators, which they say pose health hazards.

Government plans to open four new dumps have been blocked by angry residents and the Camorra, the Neapolitan mafia, continues to make money by controlling the illegal dumping of millions of tonnes of toxic waste.

Workmen began cutting down the "hanged" politicians' effigies but not before the protests had struck a chord with many ordinary Neapolitans, especially shopkeepers based in the city centre.

"This city has just become impossible to live in," Luisa Origlio, a pharmacist, told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

Gennaro Sarnacchiaro, a partner in a men's clothing store, said: "The protest is right. The city has been invaded by refuse."