The State of Baden Württemberg and its failures in the fight against the Mafia

Screenshot Sta Stuttgart

mafianeindanke is campaigning for the mafia to finally be really prosecuted in Baden-Württemberg. That is why the chairman of mafianeindanke, the investigative journalist Sandro Mattioli, clearly named problems at the prosecution authorities in a programme on German public TV station SWR: That the Stuttgart public prosecutor’s office (photo above: screenshot) had severely delayed one of the most important investigations against the mafia (Operation Stige 2018) and did not want to include a mafioso among the investigated, for example, or that a police officer who had put pressure on them to investigate more and, above all, to seize assets, was allegedly removed from office. mafianeindanke had also previously revealed another scandalous case of the Stuttgart public prosecutor’s office, in which the non-recognition of an arrest warrant from Sicily against a drug dealer with mafia background indirectly led to a death: an uninvolved 23-year-old died during an intimidation action with a pistol – an avoidable death.

This alone proves why mafianeindanke sees an urgent need for action in Baden-Württemberg. Because broadening the focus also shows how inadequately action against Italian organised crime is being taken there.

The State with the Most Mafiosi in Germany

First of all, it should be noted that according to official figures, the state of Baden-Württemberg is the state with the most Mafiosi in Germany. According to the Ministry of the Interior in Stuttgart, the current number is 181. This is surprising because North Rhine-Westphalia, for example, has experienced a similar Italian immigration history as Baden-Württemberg and is also the most populous federal state in Germany, yet it is home to a lower number of Mafia members (117). The same applies to both states as to official figures of the federal government: it can be assumed that there is a considerably higher number of Mafiosi in Germany, as these figures only show the bright field, the proven cases. The dark field can only be estimated.

For Baden-Wuerttemberg, an expansion of the Mafia in the area can also be determined. Several police operations have revealed mafia branches even in small, remote towns. The problem seems to be particularly big in the Stuttgart area, where the failure of the fight against the mafia can be impressively demonstrated: Far-reaching links can be observed there, also to personalities from politics and business, and suspected Mafiosi are active in several economic fields.

A look at history

How did it come about? A historical view is revealing here – so let’s go back to 1991, when a German Mafia crown witness had named a restaurateur as an important member of a ‘ndrangheta clan. In several interrogations in 1991, the insider also described the structure of the Farao clan, named several members and also explained the role of the innkeeper.

Later, wiretaps were conducted against this mafia-suspicious innkeeper. It turned out that his restaurant was also frequented by the then CDU parliamentary group leader Günther Oettinger. Oettinger, who later became Prime Minister and then EU Commissioner, was recorded on police wiretaps. The information about this did not remain within the police for long, but ended up in the Ministry of the Interior, which several police officers involved at the time unanimously described as not beneficial. The innkeeper also sponsored party events. At the end of the investigation, however, the innkeeper was only convicted of tax evasion. The innkeeper’s mafia background was not substantiated.

A committee of enquiry in the state parliament of Baden-Württemberg followed in 1994, but it was not at all about contacts between state politicians and Mafia suspects, but sent out a different signal. The committee of enquiry’s main task was to check whether the wiretapping was legal. The fact that the innkeeper in question was by no means only acquainted with Oettinger, but was also visited by other politicians, did not play a role. Nor did it matter that some entrepreneurs and politicians were on holiday at the innkeeper’s resort in Calabria and were picked up by him personally at the airport. It is to be feared that the police and the public prosecutor’s office might have taken notice of this clear hint.

However, this basically old story will hardly suffice as the sole explanation for the inertia in the fight against the Mafia in Baden-Württemberg. There are various approaches and indications as to what could be the cause for the insufficient prosecution of mafia activities in Baden-Württemberg, but no evidence. Are public officials being blackmailed, for example for visiting brothels? Is corruption involved? It would fit in with this that even already retired public officials still allow themselves to be informed about investigations. Or are informers and whistleblowers from mafia circles left alone because of their activities, because some authorities are dependent on their information and do not want to lose the whistleblowers?

Italian experts describe a so-called “massomafia” for Italy. According to this, an amalgamate of members of ‘ndrangheta clans and secret Masonic lodges has been formed, in which public officials are also involved. For Germany this sounds like a conspiracy theory, for Italy it is a fact: wiretaps and court cases prove the existence of the Massomafia. Some people of high social standing there have been convicted of membership in such lodges. So far, it has been shown that the ‘ndrangheta also reproduces its structures outside its home areas. Only recently, for example, a representative of the BKA confirmed to the Mafia investigation committee of the Thuringian state parliament that the structure of ‘ndrangheta cells in Germany, with the various functions such as chairman and treasurer in Germany, is an exact copy of the structures in Italy. And there is also a coordinating body superior to the individual clans in this country – in Italy such bodies have been known for a long time as “camera di controllo” or also “crimine”.

Back to Stuttgart: In any case, more than 25 years later, Italian investigations confirmed the statements of the German key witness from 1991. In the meantime, the Stuttgart innkeeper has been sentenced to ten years and eight months in prison in Italy and has been clearly named as a Mafioso. So, as clear as the result of this investigation is, as unclear are the circumstances that led to it.

Is there a protective hand?

Although the innkeeper was one of the main persons in the case and had his residence in Stuttgart, the investigation was conducted in Hesse. And the arrest was not made in Germany, but in Italy. People familiar with the case said that the Stuttgart authorities tried not to include the Mafia innkeeper among the suspects.

We received another tip from Italy that raises questions. According to the information, in the run-up to Operation Stige there had been an investigation by a German police force in the Swabian Jura. This investigation was about counterfeit money. The interesting thing about it, according to the Italian source, was that some of the persons investigated were also the focus of the Stige investigation. Although there was also an overlap in time, the Stuttgart public prosecutor’s office did not pursue this case any further. Important information could not have been used for the Italian proceedings.

And another inconsistency: Another person of similar calibre as the aforementioned innkeeper – a well-connected entrepreneur who moves in the circle of the beautiful and powerful – does not even appear in the investigation. The Italian public prosecutor’s office wanted to identify the man, Italian sources report. Several approaches were considered possible, such as a voice comparison or visits to Stuttgart by the main accused in the investigation. But no identification was made.

So is history repeating itself and again no action is being taken against an exposed – and popular – entrepreneur?

A police officer is taken away from the “mafia” issue

After the police operation went over in January 2018, a police officer from the LKA announced follow-up proceedings in a press briefing and also held out the prospect of seizing mafia assets, citing the current legal situation. This did not happen. Instead, the man was recalled. The police officer is now working elsewhere and is no longer involved in the prosecution of the Italian Mafia.

There is further evidence that the Stuttgart public prosecutor’s office is very reluctant to prosecute the Mafia. In 2010, eight key witnesses were questioned in Italy, organised by the Stuttgart public prosecutor’s office. One of the participants later reported that he had wanted to say something to another important representative of the ‘ndrangheta in Stuttgart, but the interrogators were not interested at all.

Usually, interrogations of state witnesses are a lengthy affair: the Mafia dropout has to gain trust in the person sitting across from him. Interpersonal contact is important. Likewise, the investigator has to convince himself that a potential state witness is serious and not just a vague statement in a colourful package, as has happened several times in Italy. Anyone who wants to obtain qualified information from state witnesses therefore needs time, often several weeks per person to be questioned. The Stuttgart authority apparently did not have this time: In the case of the 2010 interrogation, they took three hours – for all eight state witnesses.