Woman hired Sicilian mafia hitmen to kill ex-lover, say police

A 64-year-old woman allegedly hired four Sicilian mafia henchmen to murder her ex-lover who had stolen her jewels, according to police. The killers, all Sicilians, carried out their order by walling the man in cement while he was still alive.

The victim, named as Lamaj Astrid, a 41-year-old Albanian national, disappeared without a trace in 2013. Six years later, an investigation in Sicily by anti-mafia prosecutors in Caltanissetta province led to the discovery of his corpse sealed inside a concrete pillar in a villa in Senago, a few kilometres from Monza on the mainland.

The man’s body was found in January while the villa was being renovated, but the authorities only disclosed the news on Friday.

The four alleged killers, arrested in Sicily, were linked to a powerful mafia family from Riesi, in Caltanissetta. They are accused of murder and concealing a corpse. After learning of the discovery of the body of her ex-lover, the woman reportedly attempted to flee via Genoa airport. Police arrested her before she could leave.

According to investigators, the woman could not accept being jilted and had not forgiven the man for having stolen some of her jewellery. She reportedly decided to take revenge by contacting a group of men she knew in Sicily to organise the killing. “The woman had important contacts in the Riesi mafia,” a police commander told the newspaper La Repubblica. “A mafia boss would have finally given the OK for the murder to go ahead. The Sicilian hitmen then went to northern Italy to execute the order.”

The man’s body was identified from shreds of his clothing that were recovered from the pillar’s cavity.

‘‘The act of walling up bodies was a very common practice by the Sicilian mafia,” said Salvatore Lupo, a professor of contemporary history at the University of Palermo and a renowned expert in the history of Italy’s so-called Cosa Nostra.

“It is a very rational practice because if the body is not found, police investigations are slowed down,” said Lupo. “Other times, however, the mafia wants the corpses to be found to send out a message. If a victim talked to police about their business, he was killed and a stone was put in his mouth. If instead the victim stole money or was too greedy, the killers put banknotes on his genitals.’’

In 2009, the skeleton of a man was found in a cave in Rocca Busambra, near Corleone. A DNA test and a long investigation confirmed that the corpse belonged to the local trade unionist Placido Rizzotto, killed by Corleone bosses in 1948. To date, according to investigators, there are dozens if not hundreds of mafia victims whose bodies have never been found.

The author: Michel DEURINCK

Michel Deurinck, born in Brussels in 1950, started his career in the Belgian civil service, dedicating over 30 years to public service. Upon retirement, he pursued his passion for journalism. Transitioning into this new field, he quickly gained recognition for his insightful reporting on politics and culture. Deurinck's balanced and thoughtful approach to journalism has made him a respected figure in Belgian media.

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