It is only one stage in this extraordinary trial which is only exceeded by the one organized in Palermo in 1986-1987 against the Sicilian Cosa Nostra. Italian justice sentenced, Saturday, November 6, 70 members of the ‘Ndrangheta and other people with links to it, dealing a heavy blow to the’ Ndrangheta, the most powerful mafia group in Italy.
Judge Claudio Paris read the verdicts against 91 defendants in the huge courtroom in the town of Lamezia Terme, Calabria, where since January a “Maxi-trial”, that of hundreds of alleged members and collaborators of the organized crime syndicate ‘Ndrangheta. The 91 people who have just been convicted had opted for a rapid trial, behind closed doors, which allowed them, in the event of conviction, to have their sentences reduced by a third.
Up to 20 years in prison
Renowned anti-mafia prosecutor Nicola Gratteri – whom his efforts to defeat ‘Ndrangheta forced him to live under police protection for more than thirty years – said it was all wrong. ” very well “ past saturday. “Out of 91 accused, 70 alleged innocent people were convicted”, he told Italian news agency AdnKronos, adding that those acquitted were minor actors. Some were given the maximum sentence of 20 years required by prosecutors.
These include Domenico Macri, of the group’s military wing, Pasquale Gallone, the right-hand man of alleged Mafia boss Luigi Mancuso, whose trial is still ongoing, and Gregorio Niglia, who had, in particular , the role of procuring weapons and engaging in extortion. About a third of this group received sentences of ten years or more and 21 people were acquitted, Gratteri said.
Of the eight for which the prosecution required 20 years in prison, six received the full sentence, including 62-year-old Pasquale Gallone, who helped orchestrate his boss’s three-year cavalcade from 2014 onwards, while , for the past two years, Luigi Mancuso had been released from prison, where he had spent nineteen years.
However, the main defendants opted for a normal trial, namely Luigi Mancuso “the Uncle”, 67, considered the head of the ‘Ndrangheta families that dominated the province of Vibo Valentia in Calabria, and the former senator and lawyer Giancarlo Pittelli, 68.
More than 350 defendants called to stand trial
Some 355 defendants have yet to be tried, with the proceedings scheduled for two years or more. Investigations took several years and culminated with raids carried out in December 2019.
The ‘Ndrangheta, based in Calabria, Italy’s poorest region, controls most of the flow of cocaine entering Europe. This network of around 150 families vying for positions within the organization has at least 6,000 members and affiliates in Calabria and thousands more are supporting it around the world, experts say.
Although it now operates internationally and its earnings are reinvested in the legal economy, the ‘Ndrangheta’s ability to infiltrate almost every segment of the public administration in Calabria has enabled it to secure lucrative contracts and to consolidate its power.
The defendants convicted on Saturday had to answer in particular for mafia association, attempted murder, money laundering, drug trafficking, extortion and illegal possession of weapons.
The maxi-trial takes place in a huge courtroom capable of accommodating hundreds of lawyers defending their clients and more than 900 prosecution witnesses and 58 defense witnesses. The legendary maxi-trial of 1986-1987 had, for its part, dealt a blow to the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, with 338 convictions.
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Extraordinary trial of the ‘Ndrangheta: 70 sentences handed down