Italy: Mafia turncoat 'spills beans in thesis'

A mafia turncoat wrote an "autobiographical" thesis spilling the beans on former mafiosi who became police informers, it seems.

Manuel Pasta, once of the Lo Piccolo clan, was arrested in 2009 while studying law in the Sicilian capital Palermo, just seven exams shy of graduation, reports Giornale di Sicilia. But it says rather than face life behind bars, he became a "pentito", or police informer. And now he's graduated, having penned a 456-page thesis exploring "the phenomenon of pentitismo", according to the Palermo-based daily. His work apparently includes chapters entitled "the exploitation of the collaborator of justice" and "the figure of the judge, from enemy to friend".

The thesis is "practically an autobiography", Corriere della Sera says. The former mafioso now lives freely in a secret location, and under a new identity. His statements to police have reportedly led to around 200 arrests, and given police a clearer understanding of extortion in parts of Palermo. "Pentiti" are a key resource for anti-mafia investigators in Italy. In the 1980s, one of the country's most significant pentiti, Tommaso Buscetta, provided information which contributed to hundreds of mafiosi being imprisoned in the country's famous Maxi Trial.

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