Switzerland and Italy strengthen their cooperation in the fight against the mafia

The head of the Swiss Public Prosecutor’s Office Stefan Blättler met for the first time on Tuesday in Bern with the Italian anti-mafia prosecutor Giovanni Melillo. While mafia phenomena are on the rise in Switzerland, the two officials have decided to intensify their contacts in the future.

Giovanni Melillo is one of Italy’s most protected men. The Italian prosecutor general in charge of the fight against the mafia, who took office six months ago, came discreetly to Bern on Tuesday for a first working meeting with his Swiss counterpart Stefan Blättler.

It was the first working meeting between the two men.

“Growing ramification” of the mafia in Switzerland

In the spring, the new Attorney General of the Confederation announced that the fight against economic crime would be one of his priorities. Today, Stefan Blättler and Giovanni Melillo have decided to establish a permanent exchange of information between the justices of the two countries. The two men will now meet at least twice a year.

“We are very worried about the growing ramification of the ‘Ndrangeta (the Calabrian mafia, the most powerful in Italy, editor’s note) throughout Switzerland”, says Giovanni Melillo in the 19:30 of the RTS. “The purpose of mafia organizations is to transform violence into material wealth, that’s why they come to Switzerland,” adds the Italian prosecutor.

“We must open more investigations in Switzerland”

In his annual report 2021, the Federal Police notes that the Italian mafias are very established in Switzerland. “From the criminal analyzes we have, we know not only that mafia phenomena exist in Switzerland, but that they are on the increase”, adds Stefan Blättler, who succeeded Michael Lauber as head of the Public Prosecutor’s Office for Confederation (MPC) in early 2022.

The map of the presence of Italian mafias in Switzerland, according to Fedpol’s 2021 annual report. [Fedpol]

These criminal organizations are now present in all regions of the country, according to Fedpol. Several arrests have taken place in recent years, notably in Frauenfeld (TG) in 2014, but few are the convictions of mafiosi. “What we must do now is to open more concrete investigations”, notes the Attorney General of the Confederation.

Improving the exchange of information between the cantons

However, for him, intensifying the exchange of information with Italy will not be enough. It would also be necessary for the cantonal police to communicate with each other, which is still not the case. “Currently, we have almost better possibilities of exchange with the Schengen States than within our country”, ironically notes the former commander of the Bernese police.

“For the moment, each canton has its own system. What we need is a single information system for the whole of Switzerland”, pleads the head of the MPC. “It’s the only thing that will allow us to create a kind of picture of the criminal situation. Otherwise, we are blind,” adds Stefan Blättler, who is however delighted that the discussions between the cantons are on the right track. .

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Jean-Marc Heuberger and Didier Kottelat

Switzerland and Italy strengthen their cooperation in the fight against the mafia