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Italian police help smash ‘world’s largest pirate TV streaming network’

Italian authorities said on Wednesday they have helped smash what they called "the world's largest" pirate streaming TV network, with five million customers in Italy alone.

Italian police help smash 'world's largest pirate TV streaming network'
An illegal streaming network allowed subscribers to view pirated content. Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP

Italian police stormed various locations while police in Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece and the Netherlands also carried out raids coordinated by the EU's judicial cooperation agency Eurojust.

Police arrested at least 23 suspects as part of the ongoing operation against Xtream Codes, an alleged illegal pirating operation which Eurojust said caused damages worth some €6.5 million to the market.

Italian financial police said the operation had “deactivated the largest international pirate pay TV streaming network”.

For €12, far below normal prices, subscribers to the cut-price pirate streams could access all content from such giants as Sky Italy, Netflix and Mediaset.

“The damage caused to the broadcast companies, the private sector and public institutions so far is immense,” Filippo Spiezia, Italy's representative at Eurojust, told a press conference in The Hague. “The effects created by this illegal activity include unfair competition, financial loss… and thousands of jobs put in danger,” he said.

READ ALSO: Three new Italian original series are coming to Netflix

Germany, France and the Netherlands shut down around 200 computer servers as part of the operation. Law officers also seized hardware and shut down 800 internet sites used to re-broadcast channels.

The piracy operation was allegedly created by two Greek nationals, said Valeria Sico, deputy prosecutor at the public prosecutions office in Naples. Italian media reported that the network's mastermind had been arrested in Thessaloniki, Greece.

“We discovered a new system… which was much more evolved” than previous pirating attempts, Sico said in The Hague. The gang's platform decrypted copyright protected television images and re-broadcast them on the internet “on a wide scale”.

The scheme was first discovered when police raided a home in Naples, where they found that the criminals used a new system to infiltrate legitimate pay-per-view channels, Sico said. Once the signal was intercepted, it was re-routed through internet servers in the Netherlands and France and then sent to viewers' IP addresses.

Subscriptions were advertised on a Facebook page “telling people for a small price they could access all TV channels on demand”, Sico said.

Lodewijk van Zwieten, Dutch prosecutor specialising in cybercrime, said the Netherlands shut down 93 servers based in and around The Hague.

“This was a criminal group that used a sophisticated technical network that was really intended to resist actions by the authorities,” he said.

Those responsible for the piracy face up to three years in prison and a fine of €25,000.

 

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CRIME

 Italian police arrest mafia member after three women killed in Rome

Italian police on Saturday arrested a mafia member suspected of killing two alleged Chinese prostitutes and a Colombian sex worker in Rome, local media reported.

 Italian police arrest mafia member after three women killed in Rome

The bodies of the two Chinese women were discovered in a residential building in the upmarket Prati district on Thursday morning, while the body of the South American was found in an apartment in the same neighbourhood an hour later.

All three victims were stabbed, according to Italian media reports.

According to the Corriere della Sera newspaper, footage from surveillance cameras allowed police to identify 51-year-old Giandavide De Pau, who had been prosecuted in the past for drug trafficking and sexual assault.

The suspect is reportedly a member of a mafia clan headed by Michele Senese, who is currently serving a life sentence. De Pau is believed to have been one of Senese’s closest collaborators, acting as his personal driver and handyman.

In 2008 and 2011, the suspect had also spent time in a psychiatric hospital.

It is unknown whether the suspected killer was carrying out a mafia hit or acting alone, possibly under the influence of drugs, which were found at the home of some family members where he is believed to have sought refuge after the police manhunt got underway, Corriere della Sera reported.

Several newspapers had warned of a possible “serial killer” in the Italian capital.

The body of one of the Chinese victims was spotted by a neighbour where it lay, naked on a landing. The woman, believed to be in her 40s, had suffered head and stomach injuries, the newspaper said.

When police entered her apartment, they found the body of the second Chinese woman.

Nobody in the building appeared to have heard the murders take place, according to residents.

“Everybody knew there was a house of ill repute here, I’d see people arriving at 2:00 am, 3:00 am,” a woman who lived in the building told reporters.

The body of the Colombian, who was 65, was found by a friend, Corriere della Sera said.

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