35 Arrested During Ritual; Dead Body, Guns Found
COSENZA, Italy (AP) _ Police arrested 35 people at an isolated farmhouse and discovered indications of satanic ritual, along with piles of money, an arms cache and a corpse bearing signs of Mafia-style execution, newspapers said Saturday.
″We still don’t know how much the Mafia and black magic were involved in this affair,″ investigating magistrate Luigi Belvedere was quoted as saying in the Paese Sera newspaper.
The raid was ordered after a man showed up Wednesday night at a hospital in this southern city. He was suffering from gunshot wounds and said he had been involved in a bizarre religious ritual.
Following the tip, police went to the farmhouse and found 35 young people holding hands and murmuring ″Hail Mary″ around a table with a picture of the Virgin Mary and one of Antonio Naccarato. On the floor lay a dismembered cat.
Naccarato, who died in 1983, was a southern Italian who sought work in the northern city of Turin and was regarded by some as a saint and healer, newspapers reported.
The worshipers reportedly took no notice of the police and would only say: ″I am an apostle of Christ.″
The police knocked down a metal door and found the corpse of a 27-year-old man who had been shot to death a few days earlier.
Police said the victim was bound in a way that the ’Ndrangheta - the Calabrian version of the Mafia - reserves for traitors.
The body was surrounded by 18 rifles, guns, knives, thousands of bullets and nearly $800,000 in cash and checks.
Lidia Naccarato, 36, the niece of Antonio Naccarato, was one of those arrested. Police said she was found in a trance-like state in a room adjacent to the ceremony and denied knowing anything about the dead body.