Ndrangheta mafia group: Italy prepares for biggest trial in decades, politicians and officials involved
Hundreds of suspected members of Italy's most powerful mafia group will face justice in Italy's biggest organized crime trial in decades. 355 suspected mobsters and officials suspected of being corrupt were charged after a lengthy investigation into the Ndrangheta mafia group. More than 900 witnesses are expected to testify and the indictment includes murder, drug trafficking, extortion and money laundering.
The trial begins today and is expected to last more than two years. The trial will take place in a specially modified building in the southern region of Calabria, which is in the heart of the Ndrangheta territory.
The building has been converted into a fortified courtroom to create space for hundreds of people who can participate in the process.
No mafia trial has been held in Italy on such a scale since the 1980s. Unlike the previous trial, which began in 1986 and 1992 and targeted a large number of Cosa Nostra families in Sicily, today's trial is about target only one group, the Mancuso family, which is said to be the most powerful mafia group spread under the name Ndrangheta. Although the Ndrangheta is already a larger group than the Cosa Nostra, the Mancuso clan is said to operate mainly in the Calabrian province of Vibo Valentia.
During a recent pre-trial hearing it took more than three hours to read the names of the defendants. They include politicians, police officers, civil servants as well as suspected members and collaborators of the group. The highest-profile defendant is suspected clan chief Luigi Mancuso, 66, also known as "Uncle."
The other defendants are said to have nicknames such as "Wolf", "Fatty" and "Blondie". The number of accused goes to more than 400. These include Giancarlo Pittelli, a lawyer and former senator of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party.
'Ndrangheta' is believed to control the supply of large quantities of cocaine entering Europe from South America and other countries.