08 Junio 2017 13:51
The fine line between love and hate
You don't get to decide who you like or who likes you. These things just happen. You see someone and you like what you see. There's little willpower involved: it's not a conscious process. Whether or not it's worth your while to reveal that feeling of attraction – and how to go about it – is another matter. Especially if the person you like is your best friend's girlfriend.
Francesco Lamberti just lost his life – at the age of 19 – for precisely that. For liking the wrong person on Facebook; for ticking the 'like' button and leaving a brief comment beneath a photo posted by his best friend, Alex Pitito, of Alex's girlfriend.
15-year-old Pitito interpreted that 'like' as a sign that Lamberti was interested in his girlfriend. In most parts of the world the situation would have been settled with a telling-off, maybe even a few punches. The two might have broken their friendship for a while... perhaps forever... But in Calabria they have a different way of doing things.
Alex asked Francesco to meet him in a field on the outskirts of Mileto, in the province of Vibo Valentia, in southern Italy. After a brief row, Pitito took out a pistol and shot Lamberti three times in the chest, killing him.
He then went to the police station to confess to his crime.
He had just murdered his best friend.
Francesco Lamberti in a photo from Facebook
The news has drawn a lot of attention in Italy because it serves as a reminder of the scourge of mafia violence that the southern part of the country still struggles with daily. They call them babycapos: children raised by Camorra and 'Ndrangheta families. When these children reach their teenage years, many of them enjoy showing off their wealth and weapons, having no qualms about shooting people who get in their way. Quicker to kill than older generations, these teenagers boast of their capacity for violence and are unafraid of spending time in prison.
In Italy there is growing concern about the phenomenon of the 'babycapos' – youths raised by Camorra and 'Ndrangheta families – who live a life of braggadocio and violence, and have no qualms about killing anyone who gets in their way
According to the paper Il Giornale, young Alex Pitito was well on his way to becoming a babycapo. He is the son of Salvatore Pitito, a 'Ndraguetta mafia boss known as 'El Tío', or the Uncle. Pitito's family is all part of the same criminal organisation, including his mother, Maria Antonia Messiano, and 21-year-old brother, Giuseppe. Pitito's cousin Pasquale is the brother-in-law of Michel Iannello, a repentant mafioso who was convicted of the murder of Nicholas Green, a 7-year-old American boy.
Father, mother, brother and cousin were all arrested last January as part of Operation Stammer. They were accused of forming a drug trafficking network distributing cocaine coming from South America.
Police believe that the gun used in Lamberti's shooting could belong to the grandfather of the clan.
Alex Pitito is the son of a 'Ndraguetta boss named Salvatore, known as 'El Tío' or the Uncle. Alex's father, mother, brother and cousin were all arrested in January for drug trafficking
This is the new criminal reality in Calabria: children who grow up and are educated in criminal environments in areas with high rates of unemployment. These youths often end up – through a combination of tradition and inertia – filling the power vacuums that appear in criminal organisations as a result of arrests and assassinations.
To a boy who has imbibed mafia codes of conduct since he was in the cradle, killing a person once considered a friend is perfectly normal behaviour. For Alex, shooting Francesco was a straightforward question of honour. In a corner of the world where honour is worth more than a human life.