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Italian government plans to install surveillance cameras to fight Mafia in southern cities

Xinhua | August 4 2006

Italian government is developing plans to install surveillance cameras in southern cities to fight Mafia, local media reported on Thursday.

In a TV interview to be aired on Sunday, Interior Minister Marco Minniti said that the government is developing a video- surveillance scheme across towns and cities in the south, where the Mafia is rife.

"If these areas under active surveillance then it becomes more difficult for Mafia representatives to go around asking for protection money," he said.

The new cameras should be up and running in the largest southern cities by the end of 2007, he said.

"The government's idea is to set up some kind of alliance between the state and anti-racketeering associations, and to provide greater security to those who testify against the Mafia", he said.

The video surveillance is part of a series of ideas being considered by the new centre-left government as a way of tackling the widespread problems of racketeering and extortion.

According to a report published last month by national retailers ' association Confesercenti, the Mafia extorts 200 million euros a day from Italian businesses, 80 million of which from shopkeepers alone.

It said those operating in southern Italy were particularly vulnerable to criminal organizations, with 80 percent of shops in the Sicilian cities of Palermo and Catania forced to pay protection money and 50 percent in Naples and the surrounding area.

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