Italian Court Convicts 70 ‘Ndrangheta Members and Associates

An Italian court on Saturday sentenced 70 members of the powerful mafia group, the ‘ndrangheta, during the first stage of a massive trial tackling organized crime.

Judge Claudio Paris convicted the first group of 91 offenders in Lamezia Terme, Calabria, during hurried proceedings behind closed doors in a specially created courtroom.

According to court officials, 355 people, including alleged ‘ndrangheta Mafia bosses, would be tried in proceedings that might span two years or more.

The Italian legal system has prepared a specially designed courtroom to hear defendants in the “maxi trial” of alleged mobsters operating in the Calabria region on the “toe” of the Italian mainland.

Six of those convicted in Saturday’s proceedings received the maximum 20-year term requested by prosecutors. Pasquale Gallone, 62, the right-hand man of accused ‘ndrangheta chief Luigi Mancuso, and Gregorio Niglia, who was convicted of procuring weapons and extortion, were among those arrested.

According to legendary anti-Mafia prosecutor Nicola Gratteri, they acquitted 21 of the defendants, seven at the request of prosecutors.

Many of the accused were charged with attempted murder, money laundering, usury, drug dealing, extortion, and illegal weapons possession.

Authorities suspect that alleged ‘ndrangheta chief ‘The Uncle’ Mancuso, 67, and ex-senator Giancarlo Pittelli, 68, who prosecutors say was his fixer, may face lengthy court trials in the coming years.

The trials involve hundreds of attorneys and roughly a thousand prosecution witnesses.

Judges might erase a third of a condemned person’s sentence under the fast-track justice option.

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