SHARE
COPY LINK

CRIME

Spain sticks by ‘Mafia’ restaurant chain

A request by the Italian government to get the Spanish crime-inspired restaurant chain ‘Mafia’ to change its name has been rejected, Italian media have reported.

Spain sticks by 'Mafia' restaurant chain
The Spanish franchise-model business last year grew to 34 restaurants nationwide since opening in 2000. Screen grab: YouTube

Following an appeal from Sicilian MP Claudio Fava, whose own father was killed by Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian mafia, the Italian government requested that the controversially named Spanish eatery either change its name or be forced to close.

However the request was not greeted favourably by Spanish authorities, who responded saying that the word “mafia” was now so widely used across the world that it did not necessarily relate to the Italian criminal organization.

They added that there were several brands containing the word “mafia” which were not only registered in Spain, but also in other EU countries.

Nevertheless, the foreign ministry’s undersecretary Benedetto della Vedova has assured Fava, who is an MP in Catania for the Left Ecology Freedom party, that the government would also contact the Spanish Embassy in Italy with its request. 

Italy’s Il Giornale newspaper slammed the restaurant chain for its “bad taste”.

“But it’s not even that original,” wrote the paper. “Considering that several Italian establishments are named after the so-called honorary company across the world.

“It’s the fault of a lack of imagination of those who run them, but also, disgracefully, of the great notoriety that the criminals from our South are earning abroad.”

A rare success story during the country's economic crisis, the Spanish franchise-model business last year grew to 34 restaurants nationwide since opening in 2000.

In an article printed in La Repubblica newspaper in February 2014, Attilio Bolzoni, a writer on organized crime, highlighted the irony of signing up for La Mafia’s loyalty club while members of various mafia clans carried out their activities in Spanish cities including Malaga, Madrid, Barcelona and Toledo.

"Imagine what would happen in Spain if someone in Italy opened a restaurant dedicated to the (Basque) terrorist group Eta," speculated the resigned-sounding journalist.

"The word mafia is a brand that is immediately recognized, it’s a call to attention and everyone remembers it,” the firm’s public relations manager Pablo Martínez told the Italian journalist at the time.

"We didn't create it, we just use it."

Martínez stressed that images of violence were prohibited in the firm's restaurants and that the model was the mafia of the movies like The Godfather.

"We apologize to those Italians who feel offended (by the name) but that’s not our intention."

The article caused an immediate reaction in Italy with Marco Anzaldi, an MP with Italy’s Democratic Party, calling for an official complaint to be lodged.

In August last year, a Sicilian politician and anti-mafia commissioner lambasted restaurants in Denmark for naming pizzas and sandwiches after a notorious crime gang after stumbling across an Al Capone pizza in Copenhagen.

He said the dishes "exploited the worst stereotypes about southern Italy and criminals".

SEE ALSO: Spain's 'mafia' eateries spark Italian outrage

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

CRIME

Shock as Spain tells foreigners how to cancel their criminal record 

Spain's Justice Ministry has caused outrage after it sent out a tweet explaining how foreign nationals can cancel their criminal record online themselves in order to gain Spanish citizenship. 

Shock as Spain tells foreigners how to cancel their criminal record 

It may seem like a dark joke sent out by a disgruntled civil servant, but Spain’s Justice Ministry has indeed informed the country’s 6 million foreigners – including those who’ve committed crimes in the past – how to wipe their criminal history from the system.

“Criminal records can be a problem when it comes to obtaining Spanish nationality or applying for or renewing residence permits,” the ministry headed by Pilar Llop tweeted on Sunday. 

“Here we explain step by step how to request the cancellation of criminal records,” the Justice Ministry went on to say, followed by a link to a video describing the process. 

In the video posted on June 7th 2022, which has so far more than 24,000 views, a narrator goes on to explain that through the digital transformation process that the Justice Ministry is currently undergoing, it’s possible for anyone to personally and officially delete their own criminal record.

“That means that your sentence can be cancelled without you having to apply for it,” the video stressed.

This reportedly applies to both criminal records and sexual conviction records.

Logically, the tweet has caused a mix of incredulity and anger on the Spanish twittersphere, with comments such as “they’re mad”, “is it a joke?”, “God save us” or “instead of kicking foreign criminals out they’re helping them”.

The truth is that the possibility of expunging a criminal record in Spain has already existed for 27 years, as has the option of a foreigner with a criminal record being able to obtain Spanish nationality.

What has changed is the possibility of an automated system allowing citizens, Spanish nationals and foreigners alike, to carry out the expunging process online themselves, rather than having to apply for the Justice Ministry to do it for them. 

What’s also novel, many would say alarming, is that Spain’s Justice Ministry has made this public knowledge to many more people in Spain after their tweet went viral. 

Artículo 136 of Spain’s Penal Code allows people with a criminal record to cancel it once a certain period of time has elapsed and if they have not committed any other felony since the initial sentence. 

For those with minor sentences, the criminal record can be removed after six months whereas for serious crimes (5+ years in prison) the wait is ten years, higher if they’re charged with more than one crime. 

However, there doesn’t appear to be any lifetime prohibition from expunging criminal records for those who have committed the most heinous crimes, meaning that foreign rapists, murderers and paedophiles could technically cancel their criminal records if they met the aforementioned conditions and become Spanish nationals.

SHOW COMMENTS