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Notícies :: corrupció i poder : ecologia
Those 30 ships poisoning the Mediterranean
09 oct 2009
Paola (Cosenza) – Two yellow spots behind a porthole. The lights of an underwater camera lighten the entire scene around the “Cunski” ship. The display shows “September 12, 17:33”. A rivulet finds its way out a crack in the metal. More dark figures (fishes?) to be seen in the obscurity.
All this seems to confirm Bruno Giordano’s worries, a regional prosecutor: «Behind those portholes there might be the skulls of two sailors».

This sinking ship off the Calabrian coast is not only an ecological bomb but also a grave. The final destination for illegal sailors and for its no-longer secret load: a graveyard for men and garbage. How many other “Cunski” are laying on the seabed of the Mediterranean, releasing poisons and holding secrets? It’s the same question captain Natale De Grazia posed himself 14 years ago. During his investigation he used to note down details. It is worthy to mention them here:

The ships? 7/8 Italian and Cyprus. Where are they? Their names? Sailors and instigators? Connections between “Rigel” and COmerio. Hira, Ara, Tremiti islands. Lower Adriatic. Harbours: Marina di Carrara/Akbaya, Salerno/Savona/Castellammare di Stabia/Otranto/Porto Nogaro/Fiume, Sulina Beirut. Nuclear waste.

He was one of the last one to investigate the matter. To what map he referred to in the autumn of ’95? This answer will remain unanswered. On December 12, 1995, a sudden heart attack takes De Grazia away in his car on the way to La Spezia, in the attempt to solve the “ships of poison” case. The heart attack is peculiar however, as only shortly after the captain will be rewarded with the army gold medal.

It starts from here, from those personal notes, the journey towards the “poisoned ships”, sinking not only in Italy but throughout the Mediterranean and the Horn of Africa.

The story began legally among the white collars of a European Agency laboratory, it became a profitable chance for ruthless people and for human and weapon traffickers. In the background (not too deeply) lays an incredible bribing story with Somalia and the death of Ilaria Alpi and Miran Hrovatin. On January 18, 2005, answering the questions of a parliamentary Commission of the two dead journalists, Francesco Neri (Prosecutor of the city of Reggio Calabria) reveals that «the map showing the sinking points and the alerts by Greenpeace coincide with the Comerio map».

The investigation over the poisoned ships stayed off the lights for 12 years, until September 12 2009 when the “Manifesto” (Italian daily) wrote that the declarations by a turncoat (Mafioso turned informant, Francesco Fonti) allowed to uncover a new wreck down the water off the Calabria coast. The Antimafia Commission is now taking care of the matter, and on the lookout for new poisoned ships the Comerio map is in the spotlight again.

Investigative commissions have plenty of documents about Giorgio Comerio, a businessman in the antennas and geology fields. He declared in an interview that he has been subject to a majestic misunderstanding: «A custom officer held me once saying he was not aware of the “Euratom” project», whereas prosecutors say «he had tight with Argentinean and Iraqi secret services and had bought garbage from all over the world».

The beginning of the story about poisoned ships take place in Italy, at the Lago Maggiore, where “Ispra” is located, the institute for protection and environmental research that does business with “Euratom”. According to prosecutor Nicola Maria Pace, it is here that an ambitious project takes shape:

«Ispra – says Pace in March 2005 – starts an innovative project for the placing of nuclear waste in to geological mines, through American and Japanese funds. Such project, named “Dodos”, involved hundreds technicians from all over the world, among whom Giorgio Comerio».

The idea was to sink nuclear waste from torpedo’s on the seabed. Such project will be abandoned for fear of environmentalists protests.

«In order to prevent such projects to be implemented – recalls Enrico Fontana, “Legambiente” – an UN Convention was signed that prevents from disposing dangerous waste on seabeds».

Comeria, however, understands that he could make enormous profits from that technique. He therefore creates “Odm” (obviously located in the Vergin Islands, notorious fiscal heaven) and purchase the rights for this new technology. He then meets a judge in Lubiana (Slovenia Republic) and convinces him it doesn’t break any UN Convention. He hits the jackpot. From that moment, Comerio enters the market and through his brand new website he offers global governments to dismantle their waste at very competitive prices. France and Switzerland decline. However, illegal deals start popping up like mushrooms in autumn.

The locations for the sinking (the famous Comerio map) is made by “Ispra” scientists. During the audition before the Commision that investigates the death of Ilaria Alpi, Nicola Maria Pace reveals an incredible fact: the «deal between an African army group who would sell one island to Comerio, in which he would have installed the appropriate facilities for dismantling nuclear waste into the sea. One more island would have been given to Salvatore Ligresti for building tourist villages. A third island would go to Carlo Rubbia in order to build a nuclear reactor able to give enough electricity to the other two islands». Rubbia and Ligresti refuse the offer.

However, the mechanism is unstoppable. Comerio gets in touch with the governments of Sierra Leone, South Africa, Austria. He manages to deal also with the government of Somalia: 5 million dollars for sinking nuclear waste off their coast and 10 thousands bribe to the national party leader – Ali Mahdi – for each sunk torpedo. Did Ilaria Alpi discover this trafficking? Or worse, did she find out about the bribes?

Something simila was also discovered by De Grazia. Under the command of Reggio Calabria prosecutor, Francesco Neri, he searched the house of Giorgio Comerio: it was September 1995, one year after the death of the two journalists in Somalia. De Grazia followed the routes of poisoned ships: he investigated the “Riegel” (sunk in 1987 off the Ionian Sea) and the “Jolly Red”, found on a beach in Amantea in December 1990.

At least 30 poisoned ships, according to informants. In the commander cabin of the “Jolly Red” a map indicating the sinking points was found, the same map found in the house of Comerio five years later. De Grazia investigates the sinking but also the routes. He discovers that, if the graveyard is in the southern Italian seas, the harbours are to be located in the north, between Liguria and Toscana regions – between American army base in La Spezia and the marble caves in Apuane Alps: military zones grant security and marble covers nuclear waste emissions.

«We were going to La Spezia – says a witness who was in De Grazia’s car during his last drive, on December 12 – to check on the navy registry the names of 180 ships that were sunk suspiciously in the last years». The Captain would have never reached La Spezia. However, by then he had discovered a lot.

For instance, he found out a folder in Comerio’s house: «A folder – says Francesco Neri – with “Somalia” and code “1831” on it. The folder included the death certificate of Ilaria Alpi».

Today, that certificate is missing.

This work is in the public domain
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