In a nearly three-year-long trial, more than 330 suspected mobsters and their alleged associates, including white-collar professionals, were accused of extortion, drug trafficking, and theft.
Judges read their decisions on Monday in just one hour and forty minutes, according to the Italian ANSA news agency. Saverio Razionale and Domenico Bonavota, two local Calabrian mafia leaders, received the harshest punishments, receiving 30-year sentences each.
One of Italy’s most well-known magistrates and former lead prosecutor in the case, Nicola Gratteri, stated to Reuters that the ruling today “liberates a whole province of Calabria from the top brass of the criminal group.”
Giancarlo Pittelli, a lawyer and former politician with the Forza Italia party—a member of the country’s ruling coalition—was one of those found guilty and given an 11-year prison term for mafia collusion and information dissemination.
A crucial component of the verdict, according to Gratteri, who recently changed jobs to become the chief prosecutor of Naples, was establishing the link between the “Ndrangheta” and a network of experts.
Former local police chief Giorgio Naselli received a two-year, six-month sentence.
In a few instances, however, the prosecution was unable to obtain the severe sentences it was seeking, and about 100 of the defendants were found not guilty.
Both the prosecution and the defense may appeal Monday’s first-instance decision.
Prosecutors believe that the “Ndrangheta” is Italy’s most potent mafia organization, easily surpassing the more well-known Cosa Nostra gang in Sicily and having an impact on all of Europe.
Metal cages were installed for the defendants during the trial, which was held in Lamezia Terme, a converted call center.
Italy last tried hundreds of purported mafiosi at once in 1986 in Palermo, signaling the start of the group’s rapid decline and a turning point in the fight against Cosa Nostra.
Because it concentrated on numerous mob families, that Sicilian trial had a significant impact.
The Mancuso clan from the province of Vibo Valentia was the sole target of the Calabrian trial, which largely ignored the “Ndrangheta’s top brass.”
The verdict, according to University of Essex professor of criminology Anna Sergi, supported the prosecution’s interpretation of the “Ndrangheta structure in Vibo Valentia.”
She emphasized that under Italian law, such first- instance rulings may be appealed twice before becoming final, saying, “Now it has its own specificity.”