Palermo skeleton linked to 1948 slaying

March 9, 2012 at 6:08 PM
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CORLEONE, Italy, March 9 (UPI) -- A forensic team said a skeleton found in Palermo, Italy, in 2009 has been identified as a Socialist trade unionist killed by the Mafia in 1948.

The team said the remains found outside Corleone were those of Placido Rizzotto, who was killed for fighting for land reform, Italy's ANSA news agency reported Friday.

Luciano Liggio, an alleged Mafia boss, was tried for abduction and murder in Rizzotto's death but acquitted because of insufficient evidence.

ANSA said the Mafia allegedly killed a shepherd boy who witnessed the slaying, Giuseppe Letizia.

Rizzotto, a member of a left-wing union, was 34 when he disappeared. A group that grows crops on land taken from the Mafia has been named after him.

ANSA also reported Friday Italian police arrested 40 people near Naples accused of fraudulent bankruptcy and tax evasion connected to the Neapolitan Camorra crime syndicate.

The suspects -- businessmen and Camorra affiliates -- allegedly defrauded the state of about $51.4 million from July 2009-July 2011, police said.

In an unrelated case, about $10.5 million worth of assets were seized Friday from a wine entrepreneur accused of having ties to a Mafia clan in Partinico, about 19 miles from Palermo.

The 48-year-old man had been arrested in 2004 in an operation meant to drain Mafia resources, codenamed Scorched Earth.

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