In Italy's biggest mafia trial in decades, a former MP from the ruling Forza Italia party has been sentenced to eleven years in prison. Conservative politician Giancarlo Pittelli was found guilty on Monday by a court in the southern Italian city of Lamezia Terme of working for the criminal organization 'Ndrangheta.
Forza Italia was the party of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who died in June. An ex-police officer and a former regional councilor were also sentenced to prison because they were in the employ of the mafia.
In the process, more than 300 suspected members or aides of the mafia have had to answer to the judiciary for almost three years. The public prosecutor's office demanded sentences of up to 30 years in prison - a total of more than 4,700 years for all defendants.
Long list of allegations
The reading of the many verdicts lasted for several hours on Monday. The allegations ranged from murder and membership in a criminal organization to drug trafficking and money laundering to corruption in government construction contracts.
The 'Ndrangheta from Calabria was once only the number three mafia organization in Italy, behind the Cosa Nostra from Sicily and the Camorra from Naples. Today it is by far Italy's most powerful criminal group with connections all over the world. According to experts, the cocaine business in Europe is largely in their hands, including in Germany. Their worldwide turnover is estimated at more than 50 billion euros per year.
The basis for the trial, which has been running since January 2021, was the statements of more than 50 different key witnesses who have renounced the 'Ndrangheta. Normally the “law of silence” applies in the mafia - that is, no one makes any statements. According to experts, the 'Ndrangheta consists of around 150 families. In the 1980s, more than 400 members of the Cosa Nostra mafia organization were put on trial in Sicily.