“One of the mob’s arson techniques is to tie a petrol-soaked rag to the tail of a cat and set fire to it. As its tail burns, the cat flees in terror into the undergrowth in the woods, setting fire to everything it touches. That makes it harder for investigators to figure out where the fire was started and since the cat is eventually incinerated, they never find what caused the fire.”
These are the words of Giuseppe Antoci, director of the Nebrodi regional park. He was speaking out after firefighters had put out a spate of forest fires across Sicily last week. The fires, it is alleged, were caused by the Mafia who want to make money by either building on the scorched woodland or by being paid to reforest the forests that they have burned to the ground. It’s just another money scam and at the centre of it is an incinerated domestic cat.
Other people possibly involved in this arson are forestry staff employed in Sicily. There are more forestry staff in Sicily than there are in Canada believe it or not. This is because they have been hired over the years by politicians looking for votes. The forestry workers are suspected of starting fires to make their work look more important.
The arson has taken place just at the moment that hot winds blow in from Africa. Convenient. Too convenient.
“To have so many fires across Sicily at the same time, the moment the sirocco (warm wind) started, which helped fan the flames, is no coincidence. We believe there are various reasons for this wave of attacks and here at Nerodi my campaign against the Mafia was one of them.” (Mr Antoci)
Mr Antoci has been targeted by the Mafia. There tried to murder him by ambushing his car and spraying it with bullets last month. It was the first attempt by the Mafia to assassinate a public official in decades.
It is unsurprising that the humble domestic cat is abused in this way. The cat is vulnerable to abuse from unscrupulous people.
A city magistrate claimed that the Mafia had invested in reforestation companies looking to cash in by replacing burned trees.