Police fear end of six-year Mob truce after shooting in Sicily

The murder of the cousin of a Mafia turncoat has raised fears in Sicily that the Mob is back in business.

Rosario Scarantino was shot five times in the face on a quiet street in Palermo on Saturday. Scarantino was both cousin and brother-in-law to the Mafia supergrass Vincenzo Scarantino, the Mafia informer who gave the police details of the spectacular assassination in 1992 of anti-Mob prosecutor Paolo Borsellino, naming himself as one of those involved.

In the 1980s, as authorities began clamping down on the Mafia with a series of so-called "maxi-trials", the Sicilian capital often rang with the sound of gunfire as relatives of betrayed mafiosi took revenge.

Detectives who have tapped the mob's phone conversations say a truce was then imposed from the top because many cases are still going through the courts. It was expected to end when the Court of Cassation, Italy's highest appeal court, delivers its verdict.

If that was the plan, the bosses with grudges against supergrasses appear to have jumped the gun. But other explanations for the killing are also on offer. One rumour is that the victim had passed important information to the police leading to the arrest of one Giuseppe Urso, sentenced to life for his part in Borsellino's murder. Those close to Urso, according to this theory, have taken revenge. Pietro Grasso, public prosecutor of Palermo, said: "It's an alarming event, above all for the manner in which it was carried out."

Vincenzo Scarantino, 35, has twice made confessions which he twice retracted. After the second time he was expelled from the supergrass protection programme, and is serving time in a jail in northern Italy.

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