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Sicilian mafia planned to murder organised crime reporter Paolo Borrometi

Children hold placards in front of the Palace of Justice in Palermo, Sicily, to show support for anti-Mafia magistrates, 20 January 2016
Children hold placards in front of the Palace of Justice in Palermo, Sicily, to show support for anti-Mafia magistrates, 20 January 2016

Melita Antonio/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 30 April 2018.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) hails the action of the Italian police in thwarting a mafia plot to murder the journalist Paolo Borrometi "to put a stop to his reporting." A specialist in covering the mafia, Borrometi has been getting police protection for years because he is a target of frequent threats.

From wiretaps, the police learned that a mafia clan in Sicily was making detailed plans to use explosives to kill both Borrometi and his police bodyguard when he visited Sicily in May for a number of public appearances. The plans included renting a house and recruiting accomplices.

"We have to get this one," the head of this clan told his son in a phone call recorded by the police. "Do you know why a man sometimes has to be killed? In order to calm the other ones down a bit."

"We would like to express our solidarity with Paolo Borrometi at a time when he has again been exposed to a serious threat simply because he has been doing his job as a reporter," said Pauline Adès-Mével, the head of RSF's EU and Balkans desk.

"We hail the work of the police who frustrated this planned bombing and thereby prevented a third journalist from being murdered in the European Union in the space of six months. But it is important to remember that Italy is one of the most dangerous European countries for the media, with ten journalists currently receiving close, round-the-clock protection from the police."

Borrometi left his native Italy for safety reasons in 2015 after a long series of attacks and intimidation attempts. He now lives in Rome, where he is permanently escorted by several police officers. After two murders of EU journalists in the past six months - in Malta and Slovakia - a third one has been narrowly averted thanks to police surveillance.

Italy is ranked 46th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

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