Francesco Fortugno, vice president of the Regional Council of Calabria was assassinated this evening as he entered the Locri polling station to vote in the center-left primaries. A practicing surgeon and university professor, he was re-elected  in the center-left party, la Margherita, this spring.

Preliminary investigation seems to point to organized crime, the Calabria n’drangheta. It is not presently known if Fortugno had received death menaces recently. The center-left president of Calabria, Agazio Loiero, had been menaced recently because of his anti-racket policies. This may point to a transversal vendetta, a purely political crime.

This assassination has a highly symbolic value as it breaks the truce of the “silent mafia.”  For the past five years the mafia has refrained from murdering elected officials, law officers and exponents of civil society on the understanding that Berlusconi would pass legislation to the mafia’s advantage.

The crime has cast a heart of darkness over the center-left primaries as, unexpectedly, over two million citizens turned out to vote. It is the first time in Italian history that primaries are being held.

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