Palermo, 15 October 2010. Italy’s first specialized training course on the use of confiscated assets was inaugurated today at the University of Palermo.
The course, which is organized by the University of Palermo (UNIPA) - Department of European Studies and International Integration (DEMS) - will be developed in cooperation with the Italian Anti-Mafia Bureau, the Italian Agency responsible for managing confiscated assets, and UNICRI, the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute.
During the opening ceremony a memorandum of understanding was signed by UNICRI, the University of Palermo and DEMS laying the foundations for long-term mutual collaboration between the organizations.
The agreement will see support given for the implementation and management of the course and allows for the join organization of future specialised training courses for European and International judicial personnel, and for the implementation of research and technical cooperation projects.
During the ceremony, a plaque of solidarity was presented to Mr. Giuseppe Pignatone, Prosecutor of Reggio Calabria in recognition of his work as a magistrate and his brave commitment to the fight against the mafia. Mr. Pignatone has recently been the subject of several threats from the criminal world in retaliation for his work. The ceremony was attended by Mr. Roberto Lagalla, Rector of the Palermo University; Mr. Pietro Grasso the Italian Antimafia Prosecutor; Mr. Mario Morcone, Director of the Italian Agency for Confiscated Assets; Mr. Salvatore Costantino, the Course Director; Mr. Giovanni Fiandaca DEMS’ Director; Ms. Kristiina Kangaspunta, UNICRI’s Officer-in-Charge; Mr. Francesco Messineo, the Palermo Prosecutor and other high level authorities.
According to UNICRI’s Officer-in-Charge, Ms. Kristiina Kangaspunta “Cooperation between UNICRI and the other entities involved will allow for a substantive exchange of expertise at both national and international level. It wall also assist in the development of important new initiatives to expand the use of assets seized from organized criminal groups, a crucial step in the fight against organized crime. It is important that assets are seized not only to deprive criminals of their ill-gotten gains, but also so that these assets may be used to help compensate the local community for all that they have had to put up with for so many years. Creating a network of qualified professionals able to properly manage these assets is therefore a crucial step in this direction.”