Hundreds of Italian mafia members jailed for huge 2,200 years in ‘maxi trial’

Around 200 people were sentenced to a total of more than 2,200 years behind bars following one of the most important mafia “maxi trials” in Italian history.

More than 300 defendants were accused of being linked to the ‘Ndrangheta, one of the world’s most powerful crime groups, in a trial that began in January 2021.

This long and difficult trial, which has been dubbed Rinascita-Scott, saw mafiosi, entrepreneurs, politicians and members of the Carabinieri police force being charged with a number of crimes – including murder, corruption, money laundering and drug trafficking.

Highlighting the dangers and importance of this trial, upon retiring to reach a verdict last month the three judges lived in a safe house under police protection for 35 days, only emerging on Monday to read their historic sentences inside a special bunker-style courtroom in the Calabrian city of Lamezia Terme.

Among the defendants, more than 60 had already been found guilty after opting for a speedy trial, while 131 people have now been acquitted.  

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Some of the names of those convicted are known in Italy, including that of Giancarlo Pittelli – a former MP who was a member of late Silvio Berlusconi’s party Forza Italia.

Pittelli was slapped with an 11-year sentence for being a mafia go-between.

Other sentences included those of Giorgio Naselli, a former colonel of the Carabinieri police force who was handed two years and six months, and lawyer Francesco Stilo, given 14 years in prison.

Much evidence for the prosecution was provided by several dozens of informants who betrayed the ‘Ndrangheta’s code of silence. 

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This extraordinary three-year-long trial – named after the word “rebirth” and the surname of the US special agent who helped Italian police discover links between Colombia’s cartels and ‘Ndrangheta, Scott W Sieben – focused on one of the key families of this mafia group, the Mancusos.

Luigi Mancuso, believed to be one of the leading personalities in the family, is due to face a separate trial.

The Rinascita Scott trial came after a 2019 police operation involving more than 3,000 officers working even beyond Italy’s borders. In December of that year, police arrested 334 people and seized millions of euros worth of properties and cash.

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The huge investigation has been led by Nicola Gratteri, one of Italy’s most famous anti-mafia prosecutors who, due to his job, has been living under police protection for 34 years and has faced several death threats and assassination plots against him.

Founded in the 18th century in Calabria, ‘Ndrangheta grew to the point it is now active across five continents and is believed to be controlling 80 percent of the European cocaine trade.

This historic trial comes more than three decades after the conclusion of another “maxi trial” which, lasting between 1986 and 1992, saw judges sentencing 338 people out of the more than 470 arrested for a multitude of crimes relating to the Sicilian Mafia activities. 

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