According to CNN, the trial process began in January 2021 and the sentencing took place in a specially built bunker in the southern Italian town of Lamezia Terme for security reasons. All three judges were protected by police throughout the trial, which lasted 2 years and 10 months.
About 207 defendants were sentenced to prison and more than 100 were acquitted. More than 400 attorneys represented the defendants and approximately 900 witnesses provided testimony.
The jury consisting of 3 judges issued the final verdict on November 20. News page Ansa said it took the court 1 hour and 40 minutes to read the verdict.
Among the verdicts, there were 5 life sentences and 3 30-year sentences. There were 42 female defendants, a record number in a mafia trial, of which 39 were convicted.
Notably, among those sentenced are former congressman Giancarlo Pittelli of the Forza Italia party, former local police chief Giorgio Naselli, former mayor Gianluca Callipo of the city of Pizzo Calabro and a number of other former officials.
The defendants were linked to the ‘Ndrangheta organized crime group and were convicted of participating in a mafia organization, drug and arms trafficking, extortion, bribery, and some of murder.
‘Ndrangheta is located in the Calabria region in southern Italy and is considered the most powerful mafia group in the country. Furthermore, the group’s activities also reach the world with thousands of members and are one of the strongest criminal organizations, according to the Italian Anti-Mafia Department (DIA). Italian prosecutors said the ‘Ndrangheta has bases in North and South America and is also active in Africa. The European Union’s law enforcement cooperation agency Europol said the ‘Ndrangheta has a monopoly on drug trafficking on the continent.
Although there are many defendants, this is not the largest trial in Italy. In 1986, 475 people accused of being members of the Sicilian Mafia were brought to trial in a similar bunker in Palermo. More than 300 people were convicted and 19 were sentenced to life in prison, according to AP.