More than 200 mobsters convicted in historic Italian mafia trial | EUROtoday

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An Italian tribunal on Monday convicted 207 individuals and sentenced them to a mixed 2,100 years in jail on prices associated to their membership in Italy’s ’ndrangheta organized crime syndicate, one of many world’s strongest, in depth and rich drug-trafficking teams.

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It took over an hour and 40 minutes to learn aloud the court docket’s prolonged verdict, together with the acquittal of 131 different defendants. The drama unfolded in a bunker-stye courtroom within the southern Calabria area, the place the mob group was initially based mostly.

The ’ndrangheta has quietly amassed energy in Italy and overseas because the Sicilian Mafia misplaced affect and now holds virtually a monopoly on cocaine importation in Europe, in response to anti-mafia prosecutors who led the investigation in southern Italy. The group additionally has bases in North and South America and is energetic in Africa, Italian prosecutors keep, and ’ndrangheta figures have been arrested lately round Europe and in Brazil and Lebanon.

The defendants had been charged with crimes that embrace drug and arms trafficking, extortion and mafia affiliation, a time period in Italy’s penal code for members of organized crime teams. Others have been charged with performing in complicity with the ’ndrangheta with out really being a member.

The prices grew out of an investigation of 12 clans linked to a convicted ‘ndrangheta boss. The central figure, Luigi Mancuso, served 19 years in an Italian prison for his role in leading what investigators allege is one of the ‘ndrangheta’s strongest crime households, based mostly within the city of Vibo Valentia.

Vincenzo Capomolla, deputy chief prosecutor of Catanzaro, stated prosecutors’ general case held up with the convictions and confirmed the stranglehold the ‘ndrangheta held on Vibo Valentia.

“The infiltration of the criminal organization in the province of Vibo Valentia was so deep-rooted and so widespread, so alarming, so disturbing that I think it can be noted that there was no aspect of the life of the social economic fabric of the province that was not conditioned by the capacity of the force of intimidation of this so dangerous criminal organization,” he said.

Giuseppe Di Renzo, defense attorney for several of the defendants, however noted that more than a third of the original defendants were fully acquitted, while others were found not guilty of some charges.

He criticized the disparate and large number of defendants, saying they showed there was no cohesive thread to the prosecutors’ case. But Catanzaro’s former chief prosecutor who launched the investigation, Nicola Gratteri, said mafia trials often have to cast wide nets because of the very nature of how the criminal syndicates operate, infiltrating across wide swaths of society.

The trial took place in a specially constructed high-security bunker. Part of an industrial park in Lamezia Terme, the bunker is so vast that video screens were anchored to the ceiling so participants could view the proceedings.

Based almost entirely on blood ties, the ‘ndrangheta was substantially immune to turncoats for decades, but the ranks of those turning state’s evidence are becoming more substantial. In the current trial, they included a relative of Mancuso’s.

Several dozen informants in the case came from the ‘ndrangheta, while others formerly belonged to Sicily’s Cosa Nostra.

Despite the large number of defendants, the trial wasn’t Italy’s largest one involving alleged mobsters.

In 1986, 475 alleged members of the Sicilian Mafia went on trial in a equally constructed bunker in Palermo. The proceedings resulted in additional than 300 convictions and 19 life sentences. That trial helped reveal lots of the brutal strategies and murderous methods of the island’s high mob bosses, together with sensational killings that bloodied the Palermo space throughout years of energy struggles.

In distinction, the trial involving the ‘ndrangheta was aimed at securing convictions and sentences based on alleged acts of collusion among mobsters and local politicians, public officials, businessmen and members of secret lodges to show how deeply rooted the syndicate is in Calabria.

Awash in cocaine trafficking revenues, the ’ndrangheta has wolfed up lodges, eating places, pharmacies, automobile dealerships and different companies all through Italy, particularly in Rome and the nation’s prosperous north, felony investigations have revealed.

The shopping for spree unfold throughout Europe because the syndicate sought to launder illicit revenues but additionally to make “clean” cash by operating authentic companies, together with within the tourism and hospitality sectors, investigators alleged.