Carlo Alemi: The Camorra will not be intimidated

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The Independent Online

I would not call what is happening in Casal di Principe a civil war, because a civil war involves fighting between citizens. And it's not exactly comparable to what happened in Sicily in 1992, when the army went in after the murder of two high-profile investigating judges. This is the gangs challenging the state.

The problem here is that the Caserta area has fallen under the control of criminal gangs and that means close links develop between gang members and the people who live in the neighbourhood.

In this situation, the adversary is twofold – the gangs and the people who are complicit with them. I cannot say that there are also links between the gangs and the local politicians because I have not personally investigated there but I have read the reports of that in the press. And, in the past, it has been the case that local politicians in areas like this were only elected thanks to the votes of those who belong to or support the gangs.

This latest incident really seems like a challenge to the state. At the very moment the military is installed on their territory, the Camorra send an alarming signal that they will not be intimidated, and that makes the killing even more serious.

In the wake of the murder, there are people who talk about giving up hope of ever solving the problem. I don't agree with that: we must never abandon hope. And if the state commits all its resources to confronting the gangs, the fight can be won.

Roberto Maroni, the Interior Minister, said the fight would go on as long as it takes to win it, and he was right to imply that it might take a long time. Certainly it's not enough to commit the troops for, say, three months or six months and hope that will be enough. At this point, the state must raise its guard as high as possible, using every resource it has, in terms of army power and intelligence. The Camorra know the area like the back of their hands. To restore the territory to the control of the state will take an extended, comprehensive effort.

The author is senior investigating judge in the Tribunal of Naples