Rome’s anti-mafia priest attacked by man with cleaver

anti-mafia priest

A man carrying a hammer and a meat cleaver attacked a high-profile anti-mafia priest in Rome during a march against organised crime this week.

Father Antonio Coluccia is known for his efforts to rescue young people from the drug trade.

Coluccia immediately vowed the assault won’t interrupt his work.

“I will continue my fight which I am carrying out against the crime that controls the drug dealing squares …” he said, referring to neighbourhoods long associated with mafia activity.

Coluccia’s assailant, Sergio Del Prete, is a drug user with previous arrests for possession and damage to property, media reports say.

Reportedly, the 28-year-old from Belarus with a criminal record is currently under armed guard in hospital.

Police are now investigating to see if the man acted alone or was commissioned by those controlling the area’s drug trade.

Two police officers were reportedly injured in the incident.

Helping addicts

The anti-mafia priest’s way of engaging with addicts is to approach young people who serve as look-outs and street-level sellers to invite them to consider other ways of life.

He also leads regular “marches for legality” through the streets of the east Rome suburb, which is synonymous with the drug trade.

In 2012, Coluccia opened a house of welcome for young people seeking to abandon the drug trade or to recover from drug addiction.

He also runs a boxing club and gym to provide youth with alternative activities.

“I go into the peripheries, between cocaine and crack, to pray and to talk,” Coluccia says.

“My church is the street.”

Civic support

High-ranking Italian officials, including Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi and Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini, have voiced their unwavering support for a priest believed to be the target of mafia reprisal due to his relentless crusade against drug trafficking in Rome.

Minister Piantedosi took proactive steps, directly calling Rome’s chief of police to enquire about the well-being of the injured officer involved in the incident.

Salvini, the leader of Italy’s right-wing Lega party, did not mince words in expressing his respect for the priest, saying his solidarity with “a man of the Church who fights all kinds of drugs to save young people.”

Saluting the injured officer’s courage, he expressed disdain for the attacker, condemning the “vile injured criminal.”

Rome’s Mayor, Roberto Gualtieri, communicated directly with the priest, echoing a city’s collective support. He emphasised Rome’s stance against the mafia and violence, declaring that “violence and mafia must be opposed by all means.”


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