In Italy, the last secrets of the Cristina Mazzotti affair, kidnapped and killed by the Calabrian mafia in 1975

It’s an old story, a case from another time which summons four men, aged 69 to 78, to the Milan court, and takes us back almost half a century, to the summer of 1975, at the beginning of the “kidnapping season”, when kidnappings for ransoms panicked Italy. This Thursday, October 19, before the courts, their memory, perhaps, will fail them, and, it is likely, they will remain silent. It must also be said that in almost five decades they have perfected the art of dissimulation. According to the indictment, these four retirees are linked to the ‘Ndrangheta, the Calabrian Mafia, and what will bring them together in court could, given their experience, be described as an early career mission. But the “Mazzotti affair”, which will be discussed, is much more than that: it haunts the magistrates like a cursed file.

Let’s start with the quartet’s presentations. Demetrio Latella, a “killer”, in police jargon, already sentenced to life and then released on parole, has since kept a low profile as a modest gardener. Giuseppe Calabro, alias u Dutturicchiu (“the little doctor”), in reference to his medical studies, is considered a notorious drug trafficker based in Milan. Antonio Talia would be close to the clans of the Calabrian village of Africo. As for Giuseppe Morabito, the oldest of the group, he has been based in the north of Lombardy for a long time, although his family reigns over this same stronghold of Pointe de la Botte. These four men, who appear free despite such pedigrees, risk life imprisonment. They are suspected of being responsible for the kidnapping and murder of an 18-year-old high school student, Cristina Mazzotti, in the Lake Como region, that famous summer of 1975.

At the time, the ‘Ndrangheta relied on ransoms from kidnappings to amass cash and inspire fear, while taking root in the north of the peninsula. The most famous of these kidnappings was that of John Paul Getty III, aged 16, in 1973. The heir to this American industrial dynasty was found alive, but with an ear amputated, on a highway after five months of captivity and the payment of 1.7 billion lire (or 12.6 million euros today). It is in this context, two years later, that the Mazzotti family is targeted. Helios, the father, is a successful grain trader who travels extensively to Argentina. With his wife, Carla, they have three children: Vittorio, Marina, and the youngest, Cristina, nicknamed “Cri-Cri”.

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