Bloke on Mafia’s Most Wanted for 15 years says ‘death would be better than this’

An activist who exposed a Mafia for its deadly crimes has lived in hiding for 15 years.

Roberto Saviano was just 26 when he penned a best selling book detailing the extent of the Camorra gang's grip on Naples, Italy.

As Gomorrah became an overwhelming success – and even sparked an award-winning TV series – Saviano found himself bombarded with death threats to both him and his family.

The Mafia wrote a letter that stated Saviano "must be punished" and "the weapons that will be used for the execution have already been placed" in an associate’s house.

"If he shuts up, he’ll be spared," the letter concluded in a bold font.

But instead of bowing down, Saviano, who is now 42, continued to shed light on one of the world's most powerful criminal organisations.

Despite surviving an initial assassination plot, Saviano has been stripped of his own freedom since the Italian authorities learnt of the threats in 2006.

The writer continues to reluctantly live under police protection which includes sleeping in barracks and not stepping foot outside alone.

He told The Guardian how he remembers being taken to a remote island cut off from the rest of Italy.

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Saviano said: "I realised that the situation was more serious than I thought when, during a war between rival Camorra clans, [the police] took me to a secure location on a remote island.

"They put me in a house that was only accessible by sea. There was no mobile phone service, and to make calls a police agent had to ferry me out to sea.”

The journalist may still be alive but he questions whether being under constant protection is worth it.

He added: "A part of me is always at war. At war with the world, at war with the Camorra, at war with myself.

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"Sometimes I’ve even thought that dying would be better than living like this. Death would be more acceptable than this constant pressure, the state of anxiety and emptiness in which I’ve been living for so long.

"But what really bothers me is seeing my family have to move from town to town. I feel guilty every day of my life for this."

His mum once received in the post, a photo of her son with a gun pointed at his temple: with "sentenced" scrawled on top.

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Saviano's liberal anti-mafia reputation has earned him millions of supporters over the years but also plenty of enemies beyond those he has fought to bring down.

Some Naples residents accuse him of cashing in millions of euros with his book by tarnishing the city's name, The Guardian reports.

Saviano said: "Many think being under escort is a privilege. As if it were my decision. Some people even see the escort as a sign of success, but I am not a hero. I have never felt like a hero."

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