Calabria will be home to the biggest trial in years as 355 suspected members of the Ndrangheta syndicate, which operate over 1,000 betting shops, are prosecuted
The city of Calabria, known for its sprawling beaches and picturesque landscape, will have a completely different look this week as 355 people who are allegedly members of the famous mafia syndicate – Ndgrangheta – will go on trial.
Three judges managing the historic trial have already been asked to be recused on the first day of the trial. However, Italy’s famous mafia prosecutor, Nicola Gratteri, stood his ground after receiving threats such as being labelled a “dead man walking” as he appeared in court on Wednesday. Gratteri has spent most of his life under police protection (30 years) and gives his insight on the impact of the Ndrangheta syndicate in the region:
Decades ago, people would tremble when talking about Cosa Nostra or when using the word ‘Ndrangheta, something they would say only in a hidden room, around the fireplace, whispering.
Today we are beginning to speak out in the open sunlight.
In the last two years, we can say we have been seeing a spike in complaints by businessmen, bullied citizens, victims of usury, people who for years have been subject to the pall of the ‘Ndrangheta
The suspected 355 members of the mafia team will face charges including murder, drug trafficking, extortion and money laundering including the operation of illegal casinos and sportsbooks in a number of countries.
The trial is likely to last over a year and consists of over 350 defendants and more than 700 and 900 lawyers and witnesses respectively.
Shockingly, there are also claims that the syndicate boss’ son – Emanuele Mancuso – has helped the government build its case and is currently under police protection, although there are concerns about his safety after betraying his family.
Furthermore, other than their drug trafficking business and illegal weapons ring, the mafia family are also claimed to operate over 1,500 betting shops and an estimated 82 online gambling sites.
Hopefully, this historic trial will not follow the famous ‘maxi-trial’ which took place in 1986-87 dealing a massive blow to Sicily’s Cosa Nostra but saw prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino allegedly assassinated by the gang.
Photo credit: Independent
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