MafiaLeaks site calls on victims to inform on gangsters

MafiaLeaks website front page grab

A new website called MafiaLeaks, which promises to protect the identities of anyone wanting to inform on the Mafia, has been launched in Italy.

The site is said to be aimed at victims or ex-criminals who would otherwise be too frightened to provide valuable intelligence to police or journalists.

But there are concerns that the site could be abused.

The mafiosi themselves may be able to provide false information anonymously in order to confuse investigations.

The BBC's Alan Johnston in Rome says contacting the police can be fraught with danger - there just might be a corrupt officer involved and word might get back to the gangsters, with the informer running the risk of murderous retribution.

The technology has been configured so that contributors will be known only by a computer-generated code throughout any communication with the authorities, or investigative journalists.

The small team of volunteer computer experts behind the site hope a range of whistleblowers might emerge - like victims of extortion rackets, or people who might, for example, have information about a Mafia boss in hiding.

The experts who have set up the site are keeping their own identities secret, to protect themselves from acts of retaliation.

"There are fewer than 10 of us - with families. Everything we do to do with MafiaLeaks, we do after work, using money from our own pockets," one said.

But anonymity can also create problems as it can be misused to cast suspicion on entirely innocent people, our correspondent adds.

Or the mafiosi themselves might take the opportunity to feed false information to the authorities in an effort confuse their inquiries.

"MafiaLeaks could be a good way of spreading a certain type of information and shattering the wall of silence" surrounding organised crime, magistrate Nicola Gratteri told La Repubblica newspaper, but it could also mask "desires for vengeance".

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