When I say something a little bit controversial on this blog, I occasionally worry that someone might be annoyed. And friends sometimes jokingly ask me whether I’m scared that I might be targeted by criminals for speaking out against them. (Yeah, right: they’re going to be terrified by my money laundering bingo.) (Although actually I did once know an AML trainer who speaking at a conference in a rather dodgy South American country, and his laptop – stuffed with training notes – was stolen during the lunch break.) But my pathetic concerns have all been put into perspective by this story.
Roberto Saviano is one of my heroes anyway. He wrote a marvellous book called “Gomorrah”, about the Camorra crime group in Naples, and then turned it into a brutal movie. Now, the Camorra are not bears that you want to poke with a stick – they are ruthless, heartless and just-about-everything-else-less. Certainly Saviano has paid a high price for his bravery in speaking out against them: he has received death threats, has had constant police protection since 2006, and has lived in exile from Italy since 2008. And he’s only 32.
Saviano has been awarded the 2011 Pen/Pinter International writer of courage award for those who have been persecuted for expressing their beliefs. Unable for reasons of personal security to attend the award ceremony in London, Saviano sent this message: “When you feel that so many need to see, to know and to change, and not just to be entertained or comforted, then it is worth it to carry on writing.” Tanto di capello [hats off] to Roberto Saviano.