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No more child mafia victims, pope says on visit to clan heartland

Published on Jun 21, 2014 5:44 PM

CASSANO ALLO JONIO, Italy (AFP) - No more children must die at the hands of the mafia, pope Francis said on Saturday, as he travelled to the hometown of a toddler murdered in a clan drug war.

"It must never again happen that a child suffers in this way," the pope said as he met relatives of "Coco" Campolongo, a three-year-old shot dead in January in the heartland of the 'Ndrangheta organised crime group in an apparent mob hit over money.

"I continuously pray for him. Do not despair," the pope told Coco's grandparents and uncle during a visit to the Castrovillari prison, where the toddler's father is serving time for drug-related crimes. He asked them to pass the message on to Coco's mother, who was also in prison at the time of his murder and is now living under house arrest.

Under a blistering southern sun, he then addressed the 200 or so male and female inmates, many of whom are in jail for mafia-related crimes.

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