Teen Testifies Against Dad in Grisly Italian Mob Killing

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Lanese / EPA

Images of Lea Garofalo and four of the suspects accused of killing her, in a photo provided by the Carabinieri of Campobasso

This post is in partnership with Worldcrunch, a new global-news site that translates stories of note in foreign languages into English. The article below was originally published in La Stampa.

Lea Garofalo's life and death seem to be part of a Greek tragedy — or a crime novel. Her story, however, is all too real. A woman from Calabria, Italy, Garofalo flipped on her mobster husband's family, going to the police with details about numerous crimes. In revenge, the Mafia kidnapped her from the center of Milan, killed her, and dissolved her body in acid. This story is not being told in a book, but in a Milan Court of Justice, where the trial against six men charged for Garofalo's murder has just begun.

"You will get involved in this trial, because this is a tragic human story," Milan District Attorney Maurizio Tatangelo told the jurors. Garofalo's husband Carlo Cosco is accused of killing his ex-wife with the help of his relatives. Their 19-year-old daughter Denise will testify against her father, two of his brothers and her ex-fiancé. All of the men are accused of murdering her mother.

In 1996, Garofalo left her husband after he was arrested. In 2002, she decided to cooperate with the police, telling them everything she knew about the murders and extortions that Cosco and her other mobster family members had carried out. Garofalo and her daughter spent years in a witness-protection program.

In April 2009, the then 37-year-old Garofalo stopped cooperating with the police. Maybe she knew that Cosco was close to finding her. A policeman had reportedly revealed her location. Garofalo tried to get in touch with Cosco, who allegedly asked his bosses within the 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate for permission to kill her.

In May 2009, a man disguised as a repair technician entered Garofalo's house under the guise that he needed to check her washing machine. He attacked and tried to choke Garofalo. Denise, who was not at school, saved her mother. The girl will testify at the trial. "I am proud to cooperate with the police. It is not easy to testify against your own father, but this is a choice for my own freedom and to restart my life," she said in a statement read by her lawyer, Enza Rando.

At some point between Nov. 24 and 25 in 2009 Garofalo disappeared. Milan's security cameras filmed her last movements. At 6:37 p.m. she got into a car. She was brought to a warehouse, and between Nov. 26 and 28, her body was dissolved in acid.

The accused are pleading not guilty. Cosco's lawyer Daniel Sussaman claims his client was trying to find his ex-wife because he wanted to see his daughter, not to kill the woman. The trial is ongoing.

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