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Italy's highest-profile mafia target hasn't been to a restaurant in over 25 years

Italy's highest-profile mafia target hasn't been to a restaurant in over 25 years

The man the Italian mafia most want dead has had to change his life in so many ways

The man at the top of the kill list of the most powerful mafia group in Italy has had to change his life in so many ways.

Nicola Gratteri has devoted his life to prosecuting members of the Italian mafia and in return has become their top target for assassination, but that hasn't stopped him from putting plenty of them behind bars.

The mafia are still a major presence in Italy despite efforts to dismantle the criminal organisations once and for all.

Their influence stretches throughout the country and during the coronavirus pandemic there was real fear that their offers of food and charity to people struggling could force people under their thumb.

Efforts to catch members of the mafia range from long-running police investigations to nabbing the ones stupid enough to set up YouTube channels advertising their whereabouts.

Through it all, Gratteri is one of the main driving forces seeking to prosecute the crime syndicates and has spent decades living under police protection for his efforts.

Nicola Gratteri is currently overseeing Italy's biggest mafia trial since the 1980s.
LaPresse / Alamy Stock Photo

Recently interviewed by the BBC, some of the habits you need to survive when on a mafia kill list for years have been revealed.

Gratteri only tells people he's going to see where to meet him 20 minutes ahead of time, he has an escort of five police cars and drives around in a bulletproof car.

It's only through this constant vigilance that he has survived this long, as some of his colleagues have been murdered by mafia car bombings, leading Gratteri to 'often talk to death' as a way of rationalising his fear of being killed, otherwise he wouldn't be able to do his crucial job.

The mafia make billions off their criminal enterprises while operating in some of the poorest regions of Italy and have been threatening Gratteri since 1989 when someone shot at his fiancee's house and called her in the middle of the night to tell her she was 'marrying a dead man'.

They haven't got him yet and he's put those decades to good use prosecuting members of the mafia, which has only placed him in greater danger.

The prosecutor hasn't been to a restaurant in 25 years and must clear every trip with his security detail.
andrea sabbadini / Alamy Stock Photo

While the toll the constant threat of assassination has taken on his ability to live something approaching a normal life is great, Gratteri considers it worth it to take down the mafia leeching off of Italy.

He said: "I don't have a life. To go into a cafe, we have to stop and discuss it with my protection team.

"Someone enters to pay and then we go in and drink the coffee. We have to stop and discuss where to use the bathroom."

"I haven't gone to a cinema or a restaurant in 25 years. My barber comes here to the office when I need a haircut. I hardly ever see my family. But inside my head, I'm a free man."

What gives him strength is knowing there are 'thousands of people who believe in me and for whom I am the last resort' and he can't disappoint them.

Featured Image Credit: Abaca Press / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: World News, Crime, News