An Italian judge found 70 defendants guilty in the first sentence in one of the country’s largest mafia trials.
The case involves the Calabria-based ‘Ndrangheta clan, Italy’s stone in the shoe, considered by prosecutors to be the country’s most powerful mob group – easily eclipsing Sicily’s most famous Cosa Nostra gang.
The expedited trial, held over the weekend, involved 91 defendants and allowed the convicts to have their sentences reduced by a third.
Some of those named by prosecutors as senior members of the ‘Ndrangheta were sentenced to prison terms of up to 20 years.
Chief Prosecutor Nicola Gratteri said the first sentence provided the basis for a broader trial involving an additional 300 suspects, which began in January in the town of Lamezia Terme.
Mafiosi face charges that include extortion, drug trafficking and theft.
“We continued our work with the serenity and firmness necessary for such an important trial,” said Gratteri, one of the country’s most respected anti-mafia magistrates.
He added that most of the 19 people acquitted at the trial were marginal suspects.
The last time Italy tried hundreds of suspected mobsters simultaneously was in 1986, in the Sicilian city of Palermo, a case that represented a turning point in the fight against Cosa Nostra and marked the beginning of the group’s sharp decline.
The Calabrian trial involves a large number of white-collar workers and does not target the higher hierarchies of the ‘Ndrangheta clans, as was the case with the Palermo trial.
Reference: CNN Brasil