At the end of a historic trial held in Italy against the powerful Calabrian mafia ‘Ndrangheta, more than 200 people were sentenced on Monday, November 20, to sentences of up to thirty years in prison. Of the 338 defendants who appeared in first instance before the court of Lamezia Terme (South), 207 were found guilty and sentenced, while 131 were acquitted.
The prosecution had requested a total of nearly five thousand years in prison against the mafiosi as well as their white-collar accomplices, civil servants, local elected officials and even high-ranking police officers.
The sentences, read by judge Brigida Cavasino, range from a few months in prison to thirty years in prison, sentences handed down to four people. One of the most prominent defendants, former senator Giancarlo Pittelli, 70, was sentenced to eleven years in prison while the prosecution had requested a sentence of seventeen years.
The ‘Ndrangheta is present in around forty countries
Long underestimated, the ‘Ndrangheta grew quietly for decades while authorities focused their efforts on the Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian mafia depicted in films like The Godfather.
Based in Calabria, a very poor region located at the tip of the Italian Boot, it is today the richest and most powerful of the Italian mafias. Present in around forty countries, he exercises a stifling hold on his country, infiltrating and corrupting the administration while imposing his iron law on the population.
Since January 2021, three judges have heard thousands of hours of witnesses, including around fifty repentant mafiosi who have become collaborators of justice, on the activities of the Mancuso family and its associates, an important ‘Ndrangheta clan controlling the province of Vibo Valentia.
The accusations were numerous: mafia association, drug trafficking, extortion, usury, laundering of dirty money… During the trial, the accused detailed the violent operation of the ‘Ndrangheta, its influence on the local population, extortion, call rigging. for tenders and elections, acquisition of weapons, etc.
They revealed secrets about weapons caches in cemeteries or ambulances used to transport drugs, and revealed how municipal water was diverted to water plantations.
Illustrating the infiltration of the ‘Ndrangheta into the legal economy, business leaders, mayors and civil servants, including a high-ranking police officer, were in the dock.
Today, experts estimate that the latter, made up of around one hundred and fifty Calabrian families, achieves an annual turnover of around fifty billion euros throughout the world.
The most important trial against the mafia in thirty years
This maxi trial organized in a bunker under high surveillance in the town of Lamezia Terme is the most important against the mafia in more than thirty years.
The global application
The morning of the world
Every morning, find our selection of 20 articles not to be missed
Download the app
Monday morning at the opening of the hearing, an entrepreneur victim of the mafia came, like every week since the start of the trial, to express his support. “to those who help us free ourselves, the judges and the prosecutors”.
Those who oppose the mafia are threatened, even eliminated. They discover dead puppies or goat heads or even dolphins outside their door. Not to mention the cars set on fire or store fronts vandalized. Some are also beaten up or shot, others disappear forever.
With the help of Interpol, Italy has succeeded in tightening its grip on the criminal network in recent years, leading police around the world to identify and combat ‘Ndrangheta activities on their territory.
The first maxi trial was organized against members of the Sicilian mafia in Palermo in 1986, resulting in the conviction of 338 mafiosi.
Le Monde with AFP