Rome, Italy, Aug 22, 2015 / 15:02 pm
An outlandish funeral for an alleged Italian mob boss, complete with a horse-drawn carriage, flower petals strewn from a helicopter and a brass band playing theme music from the movie "The Godfather" was slammed by Rome's politicians Thursday as an intolerable display of impunity.
Hundreds gathered outside the church of San Giovanni Bosco on the outskirts of Rome to pay their respects to Vittorio Casamonica, 65, who's been identified as the leader of the Casamonica clan, which has previously been accused of racketeering, extortion and drug trafficking.
According to local authorities, Vittorio Casamonica was "on the margins" of organized crime and hasn't surfaced as a suspect in recent mafia probes.
Banners outside the church described him as the "King of Rome" and pictured him alongside the colosseum and St. Peter's Basilica. "You conquered Rome, now you'll conquer paradise," read another.
The scene was broadcast across local TV stations all afternoon and evening.
The pastor, Rev. Giancarlo Manieri, said he had no control over what happened outside of his church, and according to ANSA news agency, the funeral ceremony inside was not atypical.
The funeral came just a day after a judge set Nov. 5th as the trial date for 59 people charged in recent mafia investigations in Rome.
Rosy Bindi, president of the parliamentary anti-mafia commission, said it was "alarming" that a funeral for someone purportedly caught up in the mob could be "transformed into an ostentatious show of mafia power," according to reports from Fox News.
She added that it was proof of the stronghold of the mafia in Rome, and should serve as a call to action to redouble investigation efforts of corruption in government.
"Never again. Rome cannot be defaced by those who want it to became the set of the Godfather," Matteo Orfini, president of the ruling Democratic Party, said on Twitter about the event.
Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino said it was "intolerable that funerals are used by the living to send mafia messages," according to BBC reports.
Arturo Scotto and Celeste Costantino, of the Left Ecology Liberty (SEL) party, called on Interior Minister Angelino Alfano to explain how such a funeral could take place.
"These funerals might seem like a folkloric custom, but in reality, they send a clear message of impunity on the part of the clans: we still exist and we are powerful," they said in a statement in Italian posted on Facebook.
Several commenters also noted that the Casamonica funeral took place at the same church were, in 2006, the Archdiocese of Rome blocked a funeral for Piergiorgio Welby, who had become a symbol of the "right-to-die" movement in Italy, which contradicts Church teaching.