Francesco Fortugno (Brancaleone, September 15, 1951 – Locri, October 16, 2005) was an Italian politician and the Vice President of the Regional Assembly of Calabria. He was killed by the 'Ndrangheta in October 2005, in Locri, a hotbed of 'Ndrangheta activity.
Killed in broad day light
Fortugno was a former physician and represented the centre-left Margherita party in the regional legislature. He was known for his appeals to young Calabrians to fight the 'Ndrangheta. He was gunned down with five bullets in front of dozens of bystanders as he cast his vote at the primary elections of the centre-left coalition Unione. The masked attacker strolled calmly through the exit of the local polling station to a waiting car.
Students spontaneously took to the streets in protest the day after Fortugno’s killing. One banner read, E adesso Ammazzateci tutti (And Now Kill Us All), and many carried white sheets as a symbol of protest against the omertà, or silence, that protects the mafia. The killing triggered the birth of the Ammazzateci tutti movement against the 'Ndrangheta. The funeral of Fortugno on October 19, 2005, was attended by 8,000 people.
Investigating 'Ndrangheta penetration of health care system
His assassination is thought to have something to do with the 'Ndrangheta's efforts to penetrate the local health authority. He was investigating the awarding of hospital contracts in the Calabrian healthcare system.
In March 2006, police arrested several alleged members of the Cordì family—a leading clan of the 'Ndrangheta—including the suspected current boss, Vincenzo Cordì, and Salvatore Ritorto, believed to have pulled the trigger in the killing of Fortugno.
The investigation into the killing benefited from the declarations of Bruno Piccolo, a bar-owner from Locri and a member of the 'Ndrangheta. Piccolo had helped identify the men who ordered and carried out the murder. Though the state guaranteed him police protection, Mr Piccolo paid a high price for his co-operation. His family cut all ties with him, and in his hometown he was called l'Indegno, or the shameful one. Piccolo allegedly committed suicide. His body was found one day before the second anniversary of the murder of Fortugno.
On February 2, 2009, four men received life sentences for the 2005 murder of Fortugno. Alessandro Marcianò and his son Giuseppe were convicted of ordering the killing, while Salvatore Ritorto was found guilty of being the gunman. The fourth man, Domenico Audino, was judged to have been an accomplice.
Fortugno was murdered so that Domenico Crea, a Christian Democrat member of the regional assembly, could take his place, according to investigators. But the politician was found to be unaware of the 'Ndrangheta's backing and was not prosecuted. The killing took place against the backdrop of a web of suspicious relations through which the 'Ndrangheta was able to manipulate contracts and appointments in the regional health services. Crea was arrested in 2008 in relation to investigations concerning the health system.
- Death Comes To Locri, Time, October 23, 2005
- Italian Students March Against Mafia After Official's Killing, Bloomberg, November 4, 2005
- Move over, Cosa Nostra, The Guardian, June 8, 2006
- Patients die as Sicilian mafia buys into the hospital service, The Guardian, January 1, 2007
- (in Italian) Mastella manda ispettori a Locri: "Verificate le denunce di Fortugno", La Repubblica, December 18, 2006
- Mafia turncoat found hanged in Italy, DPA, October 16, 2007
- (in Italian) Nove arresti per il delitto Fortugno, Rai News, March 21, 2006
- Mafia murder witness found dead, BBC News, October 16, 2007.
- Four get life for 'mafia' killing, BBC News, February 2, 2009
- (in Italian) Delitto Fortugno, quattro ergastoli, Corriere della Sera, February 2, 2009
- (in Italian) Gli intrecci e i favori «Adesso la sfida è svelare il terzo livello», Corriere della Sera, February 3, 2009