THE Scottish wife of a Mafia mobster, alleged to be the godfather of one of Italy's most feared crime syndicates, finally broke her years of silence yesterday to protest her husband's innocence.
Gillian La Torre has been married for 25 years to Antonio La Torre, the Aberdeen restaurant owner who was dubbed "The Don on the Don" after he was first accused of having links with the Camorra, the Neapolitan equivalent of the Sicilian Mafia.
He was finally extradited to Italy from Scotland last year to serve a 13-year prison sentence which had been imposed by a Naples court in his absence for a range of crimes, including racketeering, extortion, robbery and the production of counterfeit money.
The extradition hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court was told that La Torre, 51, was the head of the notorious La Torre crime clan and a member of the Camorra.
The Italian government's anti-Mafia department in Naples described La Torre as being "the undisputed head of a criminal organisation, directing its activities, programming numerous acts of extortion".
Yesterday Mrs La Torre, who is now working in the North Sea oil industry, spoke for the first time about her life with the alleged Mafia boss.
She declared: "I believe he is innocent."
Mrs La Torre, whose three children are now adults, claimed that her husband had been implicated because of his brother, Augusto, who is serving a 22-year sentence in an Italian prison for Mafia-related activities.
She said: "He went to jail because of his association with his brother. He is paying for someone else's bits and pieces."
Mrs La Torre, also revealed that she was now separated from her husband.
"I do not see him now," she said. "I do not write to him and I do not want to get involved.
"I am a hard-working woman from a decent family. I have not had as much as a parking ticket. I believe he is innocent, but do I want him? No. I want to live in peace."
But she said of her marriage: "It was not all negative. We have three beautiful children together."
La Torre became a naturalised British citizen in 1994. He emigrated to Aberdeen after marrying Gillian Fraser in 1982. He became a leading figure in the city's restaurant trade as the owner of two popular Italian eateries, Pavarotti's and the Sorrento.
TRACKING THE 'GODFATHER'
ANTONIO La Torre's cover as a respectable Aberdeen restaurateur was first blown apart in 1996 when he was arrested after flying from Scotland to Amsterdam on a business trip. He was deported to Italy where he was sentenced to two years for firearms offences and Mafia association.
Three years ago, his alleged links with the Camorra surfaced again, after 25 people, including his sister, Esterina, and sister-in-law, Anna Maria, were arrested in a fresh police crackdown against the Naples crime syndicate.
The arrests were said to have followed the decision of his brother, Augusto, to give evidence against his own family and to provide details of more than 20 gangland murders in which the Camorra were implicated.
The La Torre family had ruled the town of Mondragone for decades, running a lucrative protection racket as well as being involved in heroin, cocaine and arms trafficking.
Italian police claimed that Antonio La Torre had become the new godfather of the crime clan after his brother turned informer and had already been laundering cash from profiteering rackets in Italy.