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Two French monks charged with torching 5G mobile network masts

Two Catholic monks in southeastern France have been charged with setting fire to 5G mobile network masts, prosecutors said.

Two French monks charged with torching 5G mobile network masts
Many parts of rural France still struggle with slow and unreliable internet access. Photo: Frederick Florin/AFP

Confessing to police, the monks from an ultra-conservative Capuchin monastery in the Rhône region, said they set out in the dead of night last week to burn down the first of two masts they planned to destroy, in a protest over the alleged health risks from the masts.

The following night, they ventured out for the second target mast, in a neighbouring village.

This time police were waiting and took them into custody just as they started the arson.

The actual damage done to either was negligible, prosecutors told AFP Monday, but the monks were charged with “damage and attempted damage with an incendiary device”.

The men told an investigating magistrate they had wanted “to warn the population against the harmful effects of 5G”, Villefranche city prosecutor Laetitia Francart told AFP.

Telecoms operators say the ultra-fast mobile technology will deliver radically quicker data transfers, providing a boost for the many areas of rural France that still struggle with slow and unreliable internet access.

But they have faced local protest in parts of France against 5G antennae amid claims that they are a health hazard.

The monastery seemed to back the two monks’ assessment, if not their acts of zealotry.

“The waves are very harmful for health, and they wanted to act for the well-being of humanity,” a spokeswoman for the monks told regional newspaper Le Progres.

But she said the arson was “an isolated act and an error of youth”.

The pair are 39 and 40 years old.

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CRIME

Italian killer with mafia links arrested in France after 16 years on the run

A convicted murderer linked to one of Italy's most powerful mafia organisations was arrested on Thursday in central France, Interpol said.

Italian killer with mafia links arrested in France after 16 years on the run

Edgardo Greco, 63, is suspected of belonging to the notorious ‘Ndrangheta, a powerful mafia organisation in Calabria, southern Italy.

He is wanted in Italy to serve a life sentence for the murders of Stefano and Giuseppe Bartolomeo, and accused of the attempted murder of Emiliano Mosciaro “as part of a mafia war between the Pino Sena and Perna Pranno gangs that marked the early 1990s”, Interpol said.

The Bartolomeo brothers were beaten to death with iron bars in a fish warehouse, Italian police said.

Greco’s arrest in central France came with help for Italy and France from the “Cooperation against ‘Ndrangheta Project” (I-CAN) run by Interpol, which facilitates police cooperation between its 195 member states.

READ ALSO: Italian police seize €250 million and arrest 56 in latest mafia blitz

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi, quoted in Interpol’s statement, said the arrests demonstrated his country’s commitment to “fighting all forms of organised crime and locating dangerous fugitives”.

The ‘Ndrangheta is considered Italy’s most extensive and powerful mafia group, Interpol said, operating worldwide and with strong ties to the trade in cocaine bound for Europe from South America

I-CAN’s job is help raise awareness of ‘Ndrangheta and their modus operandi, sharing police information to dismantle their networks and operations, the agency said.

The arrest of Greco, who worked in the evenings in a pizza restaurant under an assumed named according to Italian media, came a week after Italian police said it had dismantled a ‘Ndrangheta mafia ring dominating a large area of southern Calabria and seized assets exceeding 250 million euros.

Fifty-six people, many already in prison, were put under criminal investigation for a series of crimes including mafia-related conspiracy, extortion, kidnapping, bribery and possession of weapons, police and prosecutors said.

The arrest of Greco comes just over two weeks after Italian police arrested one of the most notorious bosses of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra mafia, Matteo Messina Denaro, who had been on the run for 30 years.

The 60-year-old was arrested after visiting a health clinic where he was being treated in the Sicilian capital Palermo

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