Mobsters jailed for acid bath murder

Six Italian mobsters have received life sentences for murdering and dissolving in acid a woman who shared with police the secrets of clan life.

Lea Garofalo, 35, was lured to Milan in 2009 by members of the Calabrian'Ndrangheta - among them her ex-partner and father of her daughter - before being tortured, shot dead and dumped in 50 litres of acid at a rural warehouse.

The court heard that members of the gang watched the acid vat for three days to ensure Garofalo's corpse had totally dissolved.

The key to what was called a "historic" ruling against the secretive and powerful Calabrian gangsters was evidence given by Garofalo's 20-year-old daughter Denise against her father, Carlo Cosco.

"This sentence will go down in history in this country," said Father Luigi Ciotti, an anti-mafia campaigner. "We need to bow down before this girl who has broken the mafia's omerta."

Lea Garofalo first broke ranks in 2002 with the'Ndrangheta, which has grown into a global drug and arms trading organisation worth around $70.2 billion, or 3.5 per cent of Italy's GDP. After giving investigators details of a bloody civil war between two'Ndrangheta families that left 40 dead, Garofalo left a witness protection programme in 2006 and moved with Denise out of Calabria to a house found for her by Cosco.

He tried to kill Garofalo, sending a hit man to the house disguised as a workman. Denise said the man fled after her mother fought him off with a knife. Six months later, Cosco lured mother and daughter to Milan promising to discuss Denise's university studies. While Denise visited family members in the city, Garofalo accepted a dinner invitation from Cosco, only to be bundled into a van and driven to an isolated warehouse near Monza, where two of his brothers, Vito and Giuseppe Cosco, tortured and killed her.

Now living under police protection, Denise listened to the verdict in a room adjacent to the main court, where her father and uncles sat in the dock. Cosco, who was given two years' isolation on top of his life sentence, denied the charges and claimed Garofalo had fled to Australia.

- Observer

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