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Italy irked at mafia comment

Italy took umbrage after an Israeli watchdog warned that his country was going the way of Sicily.Vardi Zeiler, a retired Israeli judge investigating police corruption, said in a newspaper interview last week that the Jewish state risks becoming like Sicily, “an entire region where there’s this phenomenon of crime taking over government.” The comments prompted an angry reaction from Italy’s ambassador to Israel, Sandro De Bernardin, who told Yediot Achronot on Tuesday that the island’s mafia reputation should be consigned to history. “I do not deny that in the past there was organized crime in Sicily. But I was not pleased with the statement that organized crime still controls the district police and the government institutions there,” De Bernardin said. “That is a lie and a falsehood. It is foolish to say so. Italian policemen lost their lives in the fight against crime in Sicily. To say that the Sicilian police are controlled by crime organizations is simply unfair.”