An Italian court yesterday, July 22,
sentenced three members of a
Nigerian crime gang in Palermo,
Sicily, to prison for various crimes
including attempted murder.
Prosecutors said the three Nigerians brought to Palermo the practices of
the "Black Axe" cult, which Nigerian
police said carried out ritual murders, mutilation and rape in the early 1990s.
In Sicily, they used mafia techniques in carrying out attempted murder,
armed robbery, bodily harm,
prostitution, extortion and drug-
dealing, and answered to Italy's
most storied mafia organisation, the
Cosa Nostra, as if they were its subjects, prosecutors said.
State prosecutors in Palermo say the mafia brings in drugs and the Nigerians distribute the among both Italian and African clients. The court's verdict, reached on
Wednesday, July 20 and made
available on Friday, handed down
sentences of 12 years and four
months to the gang's boss and just
over 10 years each to two others.
The group is believed to have
attacked two people with bottles
and axes late one night in January
2014 in Palermo's Ballaro street
market, where police later found the
victims with gashed foreheads. The Black Axe was among several
secret societies that took hold in
Nigerian universities in the 1990s,
allegedly attacking people on
campus with guns and knives,
raping women who refused to pay protection money and engaging in
Prostitution is thought to be one of
the most profitable businesses for
the Nigerian gangs. According to police data, 90% of prostitutes in Palermo come from Nigeria.