Witnesses Against the Mafia Sometimes Feel Alone, Says Bishop

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ROME, JULY 17, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Witnesses who have testified against the Mafia and then sent into hiding can sometimes feel "they have been left to themselves," says a bishop.



Bishop Gastone Simoni of Prato, Italy, called attention to the "dramatic situation" lived by witnesses to crimes who have then stood up against the Mafia.

There are about 70 "witnesses of justice" in Italy. These ordinary citizens, after testifying in court against organized crime, have undergone a radical change in their lives. They have to acquire new identity papers and move from one city to another. They receive 1,000 euros a month from the government to take care of their family.

Bishop Simoni has been supporting such witnesses for years, who feel "they have been left to themselves, and ignored in their dignity," the SIR agency reported.

This is the situation of "families of businessmen or professionals who flee with their children and roam around Italy before they must stay in an assigned home, constantly under escort," he explained.

"They can neither communicate nor work. They must live with a state allowance, endure misunderstandings and abuses," he said. "The result is divided families and lives that are torn apart."