League candidate exposed as nephew of mafia convict

Antonio Mazzeo (right) alongside Interior Minister Matteo Slavini

CATANIA – Headline-hitting Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini, once again found himself swamped in controversy on Wednesday after political sources revealed that the uncle of the League’s mayor candidate for Maletto, in Sicily, was convicted for mafia association.

 Antonio Mazzeo, the youthful face of the anti-migrant League party, who is vying to become mayor of Maletto, a small town on the slopes of Mount Etna, saw his candidacy hit a snag as his relationship to the mafia villain, Mario Montagno Bozzone, were made public.

 Montagno Bozzone, was sentenced for two years in 2005 for mafia association, and in February, he received life-long imprisonment for murder.

 Maletto had been dubbed the “fief of Salvini in Sicily” and was gearing up to meet the deputy prime minister for a rally, only for the demonstration to be postponed.

 “I still carry you in my heart, I carry Antonio in my heart,” the anti-migrant League leader said, underlining his commitment to the League’s candidate.

 Salvini added that he would do everything he could as Interior Minister “to bring some security to Sicily, to Maletto and throughout Italy,” whilst he muddles through his plans to deport 100,000 undocumented migrants per year.

 “You do not choose your relatives,” Mazzeo said in retaliation to recent accusations. “Everyone responds to their own actions, otherwise 99% of Sicilians should renounce political activities.”

 “Those who know me know how in my political commitments I have always condemned malfeasance and organised crime,” Mazzeo added.

 The League Senator Stefano Candiani was quick to support the young candidate, echoing Mazzeo’s rationality: “with this logic we could not nominate anyone.”

 “You cannot condemn someone to political exclusion just because he has mafia relatives. It means killing him socially for faults that he simply does not have and cannot have,” Candiani said.

 The League has seen strong growth in the polls after Italy’s elongated general election on March 4 eventually concluded with a M5S-League coalition.

 However, Mazzeo’s mafia link certainly comes as an unwelcome setback for Salvini, whose reputation has come heavily under-fire since his appointment as Interior Minister, centred around uncompromising anti-migrant calls which have enraged opponents.