Noted pastry chef and singer among camorra arrests

'Money extorted for giant papier-mache' flower'

Noted pastry chef and singer among camorra arrests

Naples, January 14 - A celebrated Neopolitan singer and pastry-shop owner was among six people arrested on Monday in an anti-Mafia sting operation against the Naples-based Camorra. Carabinieri police arrested Gaetano Gegnoso, 38, noted pastry chef and locally renowned singer known as Babba'. Gegnoso performs in the neomelodic style, combining traditional Neopolitan music with contemporary lyrics, and even has a website that tells the story of his pastry-making and publicizes his songs, which made him famous on his home turf in the Barra, an area in Naples' periphery. Gegnoso was arrested in connection with an alleged extortion racket disguised as fundraising for the traditional 'Insuperable Lily' - a 25-meter, 400-kg flower made of wood and papier-mache' - which is the centre-piece of a neighborhood festival called Gigli di Barra (Barra Lilies), according to the newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore. The police impounded and destroyed the towering lily just hours before it was supposed to be displayed during the festivities scheduled Friday evening. Local investigators believe businesses and residents were forced to display and buy promotional materials as part of the racketeering scheme.

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