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Daily Archives: May 19th, 2010

A mafia mobster responsible for one of Italy’s most shocking crimes – dissolving in acid the son of a police informer – has been released from a life prison sentence because he is depressed and has diabetes.

The decision to let Sicilian mafia godfather Salvatore ‘Vito’ Vitale, 64, out of jail has outraged the victims of organised crime.

Vitale was a member of a gang which kidnapped 11-year-old Giuseppe Di Matteo in November 1993, in order to gag his father, a gangster who had become a ‘pentito’ or turncoat.

They held the boy for more than two years in a bid to force his father to retract the testimony he had given to police.

When that failed, they strangled the boy, who by that time was 13, and dissolved his body in a tub of acid in order to get rid of the evidence.

Vitale, who allegedly supplied the acid, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

But he is now back at home in Palermo, Sicily, after magistrates in the city of Pavia in northern Italy ruled that he should be released on compassionate grounds.

The court accepted his lawyers’ arguments that Vitale is suffering from diabetes, depression and a heart condition and should no longer be kept behind bars.

An association of victims of mafia violence condemned the court’s decision as disgraceful.

“Criminals who are condemned to life sentences, who then become sick, should be sent to hospital for treatment and then, as soon as they have recovered, be returned to prison,” said spokeswoman Giovanna Maggiani Chelli.

There was similar anger last year when another convicted Cosa Nostra boss, Giacomo Maurizio Ieni, 53, was released from prison and placed under house arrest on the grounds that he too was depressed. In February, however, the decision was overturned and he was returned to jail.