This week the boss of one of southern Italy’s most powerful mafia dynasties sensationally handed himself in to police after three years on the run – and now faces 16 years in jail. The BBC was inside the police station when it happened.
At 4:15pm local time on Wednesday, ‘Ndrangheta boss Giuseppe “Peppe” Pesce walked into the Carabinieri station in his native Rosarno like a man who had come to pay a parking ticket.
Freshly shaven and smiling incongruously, the mafioso – one of Calabria’s most-wanted – was only a quarter of an hour late for the deadline he had set for his own surrender to the authorities.
The special Carabinieri team who had been hunting him obsessively for nearly three years looked resentful. Being denied the chance to capture him themselves seemed to have temporarily blinded them to the enormous symbolism of this criminal’s public gesture.
Mafia bosses never normally turn themselves in. In extreme circumstances, if faced with certain death at the hands of their rivals or when too old or ill to survive in hiding, they may strike secret “face-saving” deals where authorities pretend to have captured them against their will.