Mobsters have dumped the severed head of a pig on the doorstep of a brave crime fighting priest, it emerged yesterday.
Father Ennio Stamile made the grim discovery as he left his house for morning Mass and it was the second time he had been targeted after his car was vandalised last week.
Detectives are convinced he is being singled out after he started to regularly condemn the criminal activities of the local mafia known as the 'Ndrangheta during his weekly parish sermons.
The bloodied animal head was found with a piece of cloth stuffed in its mouth outside Father Stamile's home in Cetraro near Cosenza in southern Italy and it is the mob's trademark way of intimidation and convincing people to stop talking.
Cetaro has been the scene of several mob murders over the last few years and it is also a stronghold for the local 'Ndrangheta, who although less well known than their Sicilian counterparts they are a far more lucrative operation controlling much of the importation of cocaine from South America.
Among high profile victims was the local prosecutor Giannino Losardo who was gunned after he tried to take on the 'Ndrangheta and his killers have yet to be caught.
Father Stamile said: 'Despite all that is happening I will continue my battle against organised crime.' Police are stepping up security around the priest and are investigating the discovery, while Cetraro's mayor Giuseppe Aieta has given his full support and said:'This is a very serious incident and one the town does not deserve. Despite all that has happened here in the past, never has a priest been threatened.'
It is not the first time that the 'Ndrangheta, whose power base is the southern Italian region of Calabria have used violence to intimidate priests who speak out against them.
Last summer Father Giuseppe Campisano, parish priest at nearby Gioiosa Ionica was also targeted after shots were fired at his car and it came following a series of late night phone calls as well as threats and bullets in the post.
Four shots were fired at the car in broad daylight but Father Campisano was not in the vehicle at the time which was parked outside his church. Last year on a visit to Calabria Pope Benedict XVI spoke out against the 'Ndrangheta describing them as 'inhumane.'
During the last twenty years two priests have been killed by the mob in retaliation for them speaking out against their activities - Father Giuseppe Diana, 36, was gunned down as he put on his vestments to celebrate Sunday Mass while Pino Pugliesi was shot outside his church with his killer later telling his trial his victim's last words were: 'I have been expecting you.'
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