Cutro massacre, mayor: “Mattarella quote gratified us, never forget”

Antonio Ceraso: “Exchange of greetings with Meloni”. And he lets it be known: “A big event is being prepared for the first anniversary”

“The quote from the head of state gratified us, because what happened on 26 February last year profoundly affected our entire community. It was a common feeling, of profound pain. And President Mattarella’s words serve to keep the spotlights on.” Speaking in an interview with Adnkronos is Antonio Ceraso, mayor of Cutro, a small town in the Crotone area, commenting on the words of the President of the Republic in his end-of-year speech. Mattarella recalled the massacre of migrants in Steccato di Cutro, when, on the night between 25 and 26 February 2023, a gulet departing from Turkey and loaded with at least 180 migrants, broke in two a few meters from the beach, after stranded on a shoal. There were 94 confirmed deaths, including 35 children. But there are dozens of people never found at sea.

“The unity of the Republic is a way of being. Of understanding the national community. A state of mind; an attitude that unites; because it is recognized in the founding values ​​of our civilization: solidarity, freedom, equality, justice, peace.. “I have seen these values ​​demonstrated by many of our fellow citizens over the course of the year that is ending. I have encountered them in the composed piety of the people of Cutro”, said the head of state. “I heartily thank President Mattarella, because when the highest office in the state still mentions Cutro, it means that what happened must remain in the memory. It’s a positive thing. I immediately said that the spotlight must not be lowered otherwise all these people would be killed a second time, including many children”, says Ceraso, moved.

The mayor of Cutro therefore recalls Mattarella’s visit to the Crotone Palasport, a few days after the massacre, the structure that housed the bodies recovered from the sea, many of which were nameless. “I met him there and we looked into each other’s eyes, we both cried. We looked at each other, we shook hands. Without speaking. For us it was a tragedy, it was for everyone and above all for the community I represent”, he says Ceraso. “I believe that Mattarella’s words should serve to keep the spotlight on, so that what happened does not fall into oblivion.”

“The fellow villagers really appreciated the words of the Head of State – continues Ceraso – it was something positive. It is the first time, or in any case one of the rare times, that a Head of State mentions a municipality, in my memory”. “All those who stopped me say thanks to Mattarella for having raised Cutro’s name high. There are those who only talk about it for the ‘Ndrangheta. But there are many good professionals, workers, sculptors, musicians. These people we are proud.”

He then explains that he no longer went to the seaside after the massacre. “I have a house by the sea but I haven’t been there anymore. They are indelible images, those from February – he says – I can’t go to the sea”. And he remembers: “We in Cutro built the Islamic cemetery, buried nine people. Six without names, including an eight-year-old child. We will try to set up their gravestones, there is a person who is taking care of it. To make the welcoming place. We were immediately available in front of the noble chapels, with the Imam and our parish priest, Don Davide”.

“Exchange of greetings with Meloni, important not to forget”

“On the occasion of the Christmas holidays, we exchanged greetings with the Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, through her ceremonial head and through the undersecretary Wanda Ferro. “What is important is not to forget, I repeat”, underlined the mayor of Cutro, who thanks, in addition to Prime Minister Meloni, also the Head of State for having mentioned the Cutro community in his end-of-year speech at the Quirinale. “All these signals go in the direction of improving the fortunes of this territory, which has major situations of hardship, from malfeasance to delinquency”, he added.

And he spoke of a “large demonstration”, which will be held on February 26th in Cutro, on the occasion of the first anniversary of the massacre: “Together with the Calabria Region and the Prefecture, this moment of remembrance is being organised”.

A trial for the massacre is underway before the Court of Crotone. Last November, the Crotone magistrate Elisa Marchetto, in the abbreviated trial of one of the alleged smugglers, accepted the civil action brought by the State Attorney’s Office on behalf of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and the Ministry of the Interior. The defendants, three smugglers, two Pakistanis and a Turk, are charged, in concert with each other, with the crimes of aiding and abetting illegal immigration, negligent shipwreck and death as a consequence of the crime of aiding and abetting. For a quarter we are proceeding with an abbreviated procedure.

(by Elvira Terranova)