An Italian court handed down more than 200 sentences at the end of one of the biggest cases against the Italian mafia “Ndrangheta”, operating in the Calabria region, world agencies reported.
Accused in the case in the bunker room in Lamezia Terme were more than 330 people – bosses of the “Ndrangheta and a number of mafia families from the Vibo region, but also entrepreneurs, former MPs, former regional councilors, mayors, carabinieri, people from the secret services and so-called “white-collar” professionals. Some of them were accused of being members of the mafia and others of being their alleged accomplices, including highly paid professionals.
The charges included extortion, drug trafficking and theft, and the case lasted almost three years.
The Italian news agency ANSA reported that it took the judges one hour and forty minutes to read out the verdicts. The heaviest sentences were given to Saverio Rationale and Domenico Bonavota, two local leaders of the Calabrian mafia, who were each sentenced to 30 years in prison, BTA reported.
Among those found guilty was Giancarlo Pitelli – a lawyer and former politician from the Forza Italia party participating in the governing coalition – who was sentenced to 11 years in prison for participating in a conspiracy with the mafia and passing on information.
However, the prosecution failed to present sufficient evidence in a number of cases and more than 100 defendants were acquitted. Today’s decision can be appealed by both the prosecution and the accused.
The prosecutor’s office considers the Ndrangheta to be the most powerful mafia group in the country, easily overshadowing the more famous Cosa Nostra mafia operating in Sicily. Prosecutors say the Ndrangheta’s influence extends across Europe and beyond, Reuters notes.
The last time in Italy hundreds of people accused of being mobsters went on trial at the same time was in 1986 in Palermo in a case that represented a turning point in the fight against Cosa Nostra and marked the beginning of the sharp decline of this mafia organization. This case was hugely important as it targeted a number of mafia families. Today’s case mainly targets one ‘Ndrangheta mafia family – the Mancuso clan, and a large part of the leadership of the mafia organization remained unaffected.