By PHIL STEWART, Reuters
ROME (July 24) - When Don Corleone's daughter got married in the film "The Godfather," the guests kissed his hand and he dispensed favors because no Sicilian Mafia boss could refuse a request on his daughter's wedding day. But when the real thing took place in Corleone, the Sicilian hill town made famous by the movie, the Mafia's former "boss of bosses" Salvatore "Toto" Riina could only read about it in newspapers on Thursday from inside prison.
Lucia Riina, his 28-year-old daughter, was married on Wednesday and, in the absence of her father, given away by her brother Giuseppe. Besides her father, other members of Lucia's extended family also could not attend, including brother Gianni and uncle Leoluca Bagarella, who were also Mafia bosses and are also behind bars.
"Our thoughts go to those who could not be here," the groom, Vincenco Bellomo, told the guests, according to reports in Italian newspapers.
Giuseppe, who was freed from jail in February after serving time for Mafia crimes, also thanked their father, whose Mafia nickname was "the Beast" because of his ruthlessness. "You should be paying for the (media) rights," Giuseppe joked to reporters, according to La Repubblica newspaper.
The wedding, which took place in a church in Corleone, enticed the media but shocked Mafia victims. "Whoever marries them becomes an accomplice," Sonia Alfano, daughter of a Sicilian journalist killed by the Mafia, told La Repubblica. "The newlyweds never disassociated themselves from the barbarous mobsters, but instead thanked them."
Corleone Mayor Antonino Iannazzo was neutral, describing the couple as "two private citizens" who followed the rules to marry publicly and who should be respected.
Salvatore Riina's arrest in 1993 after nearly a quarter of a century on the run ended a violent reign which saw a clan war and challenge to authority dramatized by the murders in 1992 of anti-Mafia magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.
Copyright 2008, Reuters
I tend to think that the Mob is not that big of a deal these days, but I think I'm probably wrong. I suspect there may be goings-on that those of us in the innocent, naive, and crime-free <snort> Midwest have no idea of, and that we would be shocked to hear of the details.
Actually, we do have our share of crime in the Midwest, and our friend Mark in Detroit would probably have plenty to say about that. We have a lot of gang activity in our area, and we've had a rash of recent murders in our small city. But all in all, we are relatively free from the constant, violent crime that plagues large cities. We certainly don't have Mob activity in our immediate area, as far as I know, but then I try not to actively work to find it.
It IS a little shocking to me to hear that the crime families are alive and well, still operating, and apparently still being sent to the Big House. Is it still the same things? Or are they looking to expand the business and branch out a little bit? Any good businessman diversifies. I think I've watched so many Mob movies lately that I've fictionalized the reality a bit, and think it's not real. I should know better--I've read enough about early Vegas, and Al Capone's Chicago, to know that it's quite real. A wedding in Corleone, the bride's father, brother, and uncle in prison, another brother just released...that's all pretty real.
I don't think I'll be putting any tags on this entry, either. Just in the interests of protection. For me and my...you know, family.