More than 200 mobsters and their white-collar helpers were convicted by an Italian court on Monday (Nov 20) after nearly a three-year-long trial against the notorious ‘Ndrangheta mafia. According to a report by the news agency AFP, the president of the court in southern Vibo Valentia, Brigida Cavasino, steadily read out the names of the guilty and their sentences, which ranged from 30 years to a few months.
The report said that prosecutors asked for sentences totalling nearly 5,000 years for 322 accused mafia members operating in the Calabrian province of Vibo Valentia and their white-collar collaborators.
However, after the trial, the court doled out just about half that total time, with convictions of 207 defendants including four seasoned members of the ‘Ndrangheta each sentenced to 30 years in jail. The panel acquitted 131 defendants, including 16 for whom prosecutors had recommended acquittal.
The largest mafia trial in decades
This is the largest mafia trial in Italy in decades and marks the most significant blow to one of the world’s most powerful organised crime syndicates. Since the trial started in January 2021, the court heard thousands of hours of testimony, including from more than 50 former mafia operatives turned state witnesses, detailing countless examples of the ‘Ndrangheta’s brutality and its control over the territory.
The accusations against the mafia group included carrying out violent ambushes, shaking down business owners, rigging public tenders, stockpiling weapons, collecting votes, or passing kickbacks to the powerful.
However, Luigi Mancuso, the territory’s undisputed boss, was cut from the defendants’ list last year and will be tried separately.
Concerns over low turnout at court
The court also handed a 10-year prison sentence to a high-ranking member of the financial police working within Italy’s anti-mafia department. AFP reported that the official was guilty of passing along details from judicial investigations to the ‘Ndrangheta.
Monday’s trial was attended by hundreds of lawyers and journalists. Also present at the court was local businessman Rocco Mangiardi who was one of the first people to denounce the ‘Ndrangheta for extortion before a judge in 2009.
Mangiardi, who has lived under police escort ever since expressed concerns about the low turnout and told AFP that the courtroom should have been full of citizens.
“To show the judges that we’re on their side and then to tell the mafiosi with their presence ‘We don’t want you,” he added.
(With inputs from agencies)