The Cosa Nostra’s brutal murders in 1970s Sicily were bravely documented by a female photographer who defied Mafia death threats to cover their bloody crimes on the island.

Letizia Battaglia, 84, chose to do battle with the Mafia with her camera’s lens while they shot down their rivals on the vicious alleyways of Palermo and throughout Sicily at a time when murders were soaring. 

Married at 16, Battaglia divorced in 1971 and took up journalism to provide for her three daughters. She soon realised that she could earn much more if she took a picture with her stories.

Battaglia, who was the first female photographer to be employed by an Italian newspaper, found herself on the front lines of brutal wars raging over the lucrative new industries of tobacco and heroin smuggling.

Her life’s work is the subject of a new documentary, Shooting the Mafia, which featured at the BFI’s London Film Festival last month, it paints a portrait of a remarkable woman whose bravery and defiance helped expose the Mafia’s brutal crimes. 

‘At times there were five murders a day,’ Battaglia said. ‘We’d never known violence like it. I look at my photos, it’s just blood, blood, blood.’

This brought grave dangers for her, ‘Imagine how they felt being photographed. I got death threats over the phone.’ Battaglia said. 

‘My photos of the mafia, of the dead, I wanted to burn them. I could almost hear the plastic burning. I dreamed of burning my negatives but i have no right. I want to take away the beauty that others see in them.’ 

But she told the makers of the upcoming documentary about her life’s work: ‘We mustn’t be ruled by fear. I feel free because I’m free on the inside.’

By the 1970s, the Sicilian mafia, or Cosa Nostra, had become a highly lucrative business organisation which centred around cigarette smuggling and heroin.

Mafia bosses on the island negotiated arrangements with crime syndicates in Naples to establish a monopoly over the tobacco trade.

Meanwhile, heroin refineries – operated by Corsican mobsters in Marseilles – were shut down by French law enforcement and in around 1975, the mafia began providing the drug to European traffickers.

But the Cosa Nostra had bigger ambitions and moved to the United States to control the distribution end of the business as well.

This lucrative smuggling trade precipitated the Second Mafia War, in which the dominant Corleonesi clan – led by Toto Riina – would seek to take control over the Sicily.

The first shots of the war were fired in 1978 and the war over the next decade, with Riina at the forefront, would go down as the most brutal chapter in the Sicilian mafia’s history.

Source

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Credits row shows trouble’s never far away in film writing

As a premise, it is surprisingly simple: a young musician who is the only person in the world to know the Beatles’ back catalogue forges a successful career by covering their songs. But the more complex question of who should…

Will Slovakia’s pro-European surge continue in Saturday’s election?

The murder of journalist Jan Kuciak two years ago and the subsequent mass protests over corruption have caused a political earthquake in Slovakia. Its prime and interior minister quit before pro-European liberal Zuzana Čaputová swept to power as president. Now,…

Cruise ship with thousands aboard in limbo off the California coast as it awaits coronavirus results

San Francisco (CNN)A cruise ship in limbo off the California coast with thousands aboard should learn more about its fate Friday, when officials get results from dozens of coronavirus tests. The California Air National Guard dropped off test kits by…

US expects to get along with Russia despite plans to deploy troops in Poland — Trump

WASHINGTON, June 24. /TASS/. The United States still expect good relations with Russia despite plans to redeploy some of its servicemen from Germany to Poland, US President Donald Trump said at a joint news conference with the Polish president on…