In a historic verdict, an Italian court has handed down more than 230 convictions at the conclusion of one of the country’s largest-ever mafia trials. The trial targeted the ‘Ndrangheta crime group, known as Italy’s most powerful mafia organization, in its stronghold of Calabria. Over 330 suspected mobsters and their associates, including professionals in white-collar jobs, were facing charges such as drug trafficking, extortion, and theft.
The trial spanned nearly three years, and the judges took just one hour and 40 minutes to deliver their verdict on Monday. Among the convicted, Saverio Razionale and Domenico Bonavota, local mafia leaders from Calabria, received the harshest penalties with 30-year prison sentences. The court ruling was met with satisfaction from Nicola Gratteri, a renowned magistrate and former lead prosecutor in the case, who stated that the verdict meant a significant victory against the criminal group.
A notable conviction was Giancarlo Pittelli, a lawyer and former politician affiliated with the Forza Italia party. Pittelli received an 11-year prison sentence for his involvement in mafia collusion and sharing confidential information. The prosecution considered the connection between the ‘Ndrangheta and a network of professionals a crucial aspect of the verdict.
While some defendants were acquitted, the prosecution did not achieve the heavy sentences it sought in several cases. Approximately 100 individuals on trial were cleared of charges. The first-instance ruling from Monday is subject to appeal by both the defense and the prosecution.
The ‘Ndrangheta, known for its influence extending beyond Italy and rivaling the infamous Cosa Nostra in Sicily, is considered the country’s most powerful mafia group. The trial, held in a converted call center in Lamezia Terme, showcased metal cages installed to hold the defendants.
This trial marked the first time since 1986, when a significant case against the Cosa Nostra took place in Palermo, that Italy prosecuted hundreds of alleged mafiosi concurrently. The Palermo trial had a transformative impact on the fight against organized crime, leading to the downfall of numerous mob families. In contrast, the recent Calabrian trial mainly focused on the Mancuso clan from the Vibo Valentia province, leaving much of the ‘Ndrangheta’s top leadership untouched.
Anna Sergi, a professor of criminology at the University of Essex, affirms that the verdict validates the prosecution’s understanding of the ‘Ndrangheta’s structure in Vibo Valentia. However, she highlights that Italian law allows for two rounds of appeals before a first-instance ruling becomes final.