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Italian Youth Remember Mafia Victims

Thousands of young people all over Italy took part Monday in the National Day of Memory for the Victims of the Mafia. Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni said the Mafia still exists and is strong but a united Italy can defeat it.

The name of the anti-Mafia magistrate killed in 1992, one month after the killing of another leading anti-Mafia judge, Giovanni Falcone, was among the 639 names read out before a packed square in front of Rome's City Hall.

Their killings had shocked the nation. But so did many of the others who died at the hands of the mob since 1946. One by one their names were read out. They were policemen, magistrates and ordinary citizens.

Thousands of people turned out for the solemn ceremony to mark the National Day of Memory for the Victims of the Mafia. Among those present was Italy's head of state, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, who shook hands with each of the relatives of the mafia victims present.

Addressing those gathered in the square, Rome Mayor Walter Veltroni said "the Mafia exists and it is strong, but Italy also exists and it is stronger. United we will be able to defeat it".

The day was organized by Father Luigi Ciotti, head of the Libera Association established 10 years ago to combat all forms of Mafia. He said much more needs to be done if justice is to be done for all those who have been killed by the Mafia.

Politicians are not paying sufficient attention to the problem, said Father Ciotti. He added there is talk but not enough action, and the state, institutions and politics must do their share.

Thousands of students came from all over Italy to take part in the events planned in memory of victims of the Mafia. The day's events had begun at a Rome stadium in the morning.

Some of the students came from regions where organized crime and the Mafia are deeply rooted, like one student, who said we are here, we come from Palermo to give testimony to the anger that we have inside and we are here above all for the future and for change.

Others said they still feel the Mafia is alive and all efforts must be made to combat it.

The names of those commemorated at Monday's ceremony will be engraved on a memorial stone to be placed on the grounds of a Rome villa confiscated from a local mobster.

Over the years, Italian authorities have managed to catch some big Mafia names. But officials say the organization manages to reorganize quickly and continue its illicit activities.

Authorities believe the Sicilian Mafia today is headed by Bernardo Provenzano, who has managed to avoid being arrested for over four decades.