In the aftermath of the biggest mafia trial in Italy in thirty years, almost two hundred members of criminal gangs were given sentences totalling 2,200 years of imprisonment by an Italian court. More than 300 defendants were on trial since January 2021 as they were accused of being members of the powerful crime group and had been facing an array of charges, such as extortion, drug trafficking, and theft, in a trial that lasted almost three years.
More than 400 lawyers defended the accused during the trial, which started in January 2021 and was held in the southern Italian town of Lamezia Terme in a specially constructed bunker. Approximately 900 witnesses gave testimony during the trial. The court gave 30-year prison terms to two local Calabrian mafia leaders Saverio Razionale and Domenico Bonavota, and imposed the heaviest penalties on them.
A panel of three judges, who had been deliberating the fate of the 338 accused since the trial ended on October 16, delivered their verdict Monday. It took the court one hour and 40 minutes to hand down its rulings, Italian news outlet Ansa reported.
According to anti-mafia prosecutors who oversaw the investigation in southern Italy, the 'ndrangheta has discreetly consolidated its authority both domestically and internationally as the Sicilian Mafia has lost ground. As a result, the 'ndrangheta now virtually controls the trafficking of cocaine into Europe. According to Italian prosecutors, the organization also maintains bases in North and South America and is active in Africa. In recent years, 'ndrangheta members have been apprehended in Europe, Brazil, and Lebanon.
Before this Calabrian trial, it was only in 1986 that hundreds of alleged mafiosi were tried simultaneously in Palermo.
The Calabrian trial was focused primarily on one group - the Mancuso clan from the Vibo Valentia province - leaving much of the Ndrangheta's top brass untouched.
Among those convicted was a former politician and lawyer Giancarlo Pittelli. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison for colluding with mafias and passing on information to them.
The trial involved entrepreneurs and politicians and included charges of murder, corruption, drug trafficking, money laundering as well as extortion. Approximately sixty-seven defendants were found guilty, forcing the three judges presiding over the case to live in a safe house guarded by police.
Italy's prime minister Giorgia Meloni said that Italy now has the most effective tactics in fighting organised crime.
"We have an extremely changeable enemy and the fight against the mafia is a cornerstone of this government," she said.
Image source: AFP