Italy’s Biggest Mafia Trial In More Than Three Decades Kicks Off Today
Italy’s biggest mafia trial in more than three decades kicks off today, with more than 350 people allegedly connected to the notorious Ndrangheta crime syndicate facing a number of serious charges.
The trial, which begins today, Wednesday, January 13, is expected to exceed two years in length, unfolding inside a specially-modified building in the southern region of Calabria.
The court will hear from 900 prosecution witnesses and 400 lawyers, with the trial also featuring an unprecedented 58 state witnesses who are prepared to break their code of silence and expose the Ndrangheta’s secrets.
As per BBC News, a specially-converted bunker court room was created to accomodate the needs of this trial, with a former call centre in the town of Lamezia Terme having been transformed into a fortified courtroom.
Wednesday’s trial focuses upon just one branch of the powerful Ndrangheta mafia, the Mancuso family, who mainly operate in the Calabrian province of Vibo Valentia.
The majority of the defendants were detained back in December 2019 following pre-dawn raids in Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Bulgaria.
Alleged clan boss Luigi Mancuso, 66, often referred to as ‘The Uncle’, is said to be the highest-profile defendant. Other defendants are reportedly known by nicknames such as ‘The Wolf’, ‘Fatty’ and ‘Blondie’.
As well as alleged members of the crime syndicate, this far-reaching trial will target a number of alleged accomplices, including politicians, civil servants, police officers and businesspeople.
This list includes Giancarlo Pittelli, lawyer and former senator for ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party, who has denied helping the Ndrangheta to connect with the world of politics and other such powerful institutions.
Federico Varese, professor of Criminology at Oxford University, told AFP:
This trial shows how deeply rooted the Ndrangheta is in society. It’s shocking that you have a criminal group so rooted in the territory you have to put hundreds of people on trial.
Italy’s most famous anti-mafia prosecutor, Nicola Gratteri, 62, will play a central role in this case and has vowed to take down ‘this asphyxiating ‘Ndrangheta, which truly takes the breath and the heartbeat from the people’.
Speaking with Sky News, Gratteri – who has lived under police protection for more than three decades – stated that he will not be intimidated by the mafia:
You need to have broad shoulders and nerves of steel. You need to stay calm and not get caught up in emotion or tension. You need to rationalise every emotion because the goal is important and fundamental.
It’s believed the Ndrangheta controls the supply of enormous amounts of cocaine coming into Europe from South America and elsewhere.
As well as drug crimes, the lengthy charge sheet also details charges such as mafia association, murder, attempted murder, extortion, loan sharking, disclosure of official secrets and abuse of office.
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