My day started off quite like any other. Checking my inbox for prospective writing assignments. Then I came across an email from a gentleman. I was captivated at his request. He wanted me to tell his story. The man is from Italy and his name is Antonio. He’s involved in quite a complex enterprise. His business partner, Harry is being held in a prison in Senegal. His crime? Having a past association with the IRA (Irish Republican Army). Harry’s previous dealings inevitably culminated in him serving time in a Belfast prison for the bombing of a hotel. After serving his time, Harry goes back to Belfast to stay there doing business for the next 20 years. When the Italian authorities embark on a campaign against him claiming he is laundering money through his new business dealings.
I have to say I was not at all prepared for the epic tragedy I was about to hear. Antonio’s story begins with him and Harry going into business together as luxury property developers. They are internationally known. Everything they touch seemingly turns to gold. Their mutual business endeavors are the proverbial cash cow in the Italian economy with properties reaching across 3 continents. This was no small operation. These men are the people written about in history. In 2009, according PRWeb:
“VFI came out overall winners in three categories in the 2009 Europe Residential Property Awards, property’s equivalent of the Oscars”
This is really above the norm for 99% of us but it is relatable because we as Americans believe in putting in a full day’s work and reaping the benefits. These men just happened to be parlez their visions into an enormous fortune.
In March 2013, unceremoniously, fate seems to shift. An onslaught begins to unfold. It is like something out of a movie. The Guardia di Finanza initiated a blitz style attack. In dawn raids, doors are busted down; property is seized. The total properties and assets seized is valued at approximately $588 million.16 people arrested.
This is all because they suspected there was money laundering operations run by the ‘Ndrangheta or Calabrian Mafia. The man behind this is Nicola Gratteri, whose name sounds familiar. After doing a little research, I realize his name should ring a bell because he is an Italian prosecutor who has written books about his anti-Mafioso arrests. He has a great deal of face time with the Italian media and newspapers. He develops a magnificent story spun around these arrests. It appears he is more interested in fame rather than justice. The only words I can think to use are “witch hunt”. A journalist, Duncan Garnham, reported that:
“Italian police have rowed back from their initial allegation. Claudio Petrozziello, district commander of the Guardia di Finanza in Italy, said Mr Fitzsimons (Harry) had a previous conviction for an IRA bomb attack but added: ‘I have no evidence to imagine a link, a concrete link, or even an eventual link, with the organisation.’”
This is all reminiscent of the Amanda Knox prosecutorial nightmare. The powers that be in Italy seem to cast aspersions and imprison people only to quietly release them down the road due lack of evidence. The arrests draw millions of cameras and fanfare , yet the release of the individuals is done so in a very inconspicuous manner. Between the former and the latter, the individual sits in a jail in deplorable conditions, financially ruined, personally dejected and professionally handicapped. This is observations of a layman. This story is absolutely appalling. What has society come to when this is the norm?
This is just the beginning of the story.
The question I have is why is the Italian government going after Harry? What is initially sent the red flag up for them to re-investigate? Why isn’t anybody willing to do anything about it?