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Aust'n police call on special organized crime unit to solve 'gangland' murder

Xinhua, March 17, 2016 Adjust font size:

Australian police will call on its special organized crime taskforce to solve the cold-blooded murder of a high-profile ex-gangland lawyer in Melbourne earlier this week.

On Thursday, Victoria Police announced the Purana Taskforce, originally set up in 2003 following a spate of underworld killings in the late 1990s and early 2000s, would investigate Joseph Acquaro's death in the earlier hours of Tuesday.

Acquaro was locking up his local gelato store when he was shot dead on the footpath in an unexplained, execution-style killing.

A prominent member of Melbourne's Italian business community, who also represented many accused Melbourne mobsters, the 54-year-old Acquaro allegedly had a bounty of 380,000 U.S. dollars placed on his head by local Mafia figures.

Police believe Acquaro may have been targeted by the Melbourne 'Ndrangheta' - one of the biggest international chapters of the Italian "honored society" - as part of a revenge plot, as they believed he had leaked sensitive information about the group's supposed leaders, brothers Antonio "Tony" and Francesco "Frank" Madafferi.

The Victorian Supreme Court also lifted a gag order preventing the release of a classified document relating to the case on Thursday.

This document revealed that Tony Madafferi was effectively told by police last year that if a hit was carried out on Acquaro, he would become the prime suspect.

In a sworn affidavit, Madafferi's lawyer Paolo Tatti said investigators visited Madafferi in June last year at his Melbourne grocery store and told him "if something happened to Acquaro they would know where to start looking."

The Madafferi brothers were the focus of a special Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)/Fairfax Media report in 2015, which alleged the pair were the kingpins or "godfathers" of the Ndrangheta's Melbourne operation.

Frank Madafferi, also the owner of a major Italian food franchise, apparently believed Acquaro - as privy to confidential information as his brother's previous lawyer - was the source of the incriminating report.

Following the media investigation airing in June last year, Madafferi launched a defamation suit against Fairfax Media to clear his name of allegations of murder, drug trafficking, extortion and buying political influence.

Given the police's earlier warning, Madafferi has now become a murder suspect while simultaneously trying to clear his name.

The civil trial is set to begin on Aug. 1 this year. Endit