Roberto Saviano: My life under armed guard

From The Guardian:

ScreenHunter_947 Jan. 16 14.18As a young writer growing up in Caserta, a suburb of Naples, I felt myself getting more and more angry. There was a war going on between two mafia clans for control of the territory, and violence between them spilled into the streets. I wanted to tell the world what this war zone was like: the victims’ families tearing their clothes, the stink of piss from a man who knew he was going to die and couldn’t control his fear, people shot in the street because they looked like the intended victim. I got to know the workers in industries run by the Camorra. I got to know the messengers, the look-outs who worked for the clan. I read court records, news reports, trial transcripts. I pulled their stories together, the stories of my neighbourhood, and published a book called Gomorrah. Something about it touched a nerve. It became an instant bestseller – so many people bought it that the Camorra couldn’t ignore it.

Not long after the book came out in 2006, someone left a leaflet in my mother’s postbox. I was living in Naples, but she was still in Caserta. It showed a photograph of me, with a pistol to my head, and the word “Condemned”. Soon afterwards, I was invited to give an address at a gala to inaugurate the new school year in the town of Casal di Principe, home of the most powerful Camorra clan, with one of the highest murder rates in Italy. I singled out the Camorra bosses from the stage, naming them publicly, which local people had been too intimidated to do. I told them they should leave. The then-speaker of the Italian parliament was there with his bodyguards. After the event, they told me it would be too dangerous to go back to Naples on public transport, so they took me with them. The following day the local paper denounced my intervention as an insult to the Camorra. A few days later, someone followed me on the street in Naples and got on the bus behind me. He said: “You know that they are going to make you pay for what you did in Casale [Casal di Principe], right?”

Less than a month after that, returning to Naples from a literary festival, I was met at the railway station by two carabinieri. As we drove away in an armoured car, they said they had been assigned to me for my protection.

More here.