Europe

Italy makes 'Mafia' arrests over Sicily wind farms

File image of wind farm in Scotland Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Wind farms can be expensive to build and maintain

Police have arrested five people in eastern Sicily suspected of involvement in Mafia corruption over contracts to build wind farms, Italian media report.

The mayor and a councillor in the small town of Fondachelli Fantina, in Messina province, were among those detained.

The five face charges including extortion, fraud and Mafia association.

The investigation, which began in 2009, is linked to sub-contracts awarded to build energy farms near Agrigento, Palermo and Trapani.

A total of 11 people were under investigation, including two managers from a firm that won the main contract to build one of the wind farms, installing 63 turbines.

The contract was worth some 120mn euros (£103mn).

In December, police arrested six people and seized 10mn euros (£8.6mn) in assets in an investigation into suspected Mafia infiltration of other renewable energy facilities in western Sicily, Ansa reports.

The proceeds from contracts are believed to have been channelled to the fugitive head of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, Matteo Messina Denaro.

The Cosa Nostra has been trying to get into the renewable energy sector for many years, Italian investigators say.

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