Mass trial targets dominant Italian mafia
The bombings and subsequent attacks on tourist targets in mainland Italy, which killed 10 people, provoked public revulsion and accelerated the decline of Cosa Nostra, widening the opening of “Ndrangheta”.
Riina, who had been in hiding for 23 years, probably with the complicity of local authorities, was captured in 1993 and imprisoned. He died in prison in 2017.
New anti-mafia hero in Italy
The new trial, in the Calabrian town of Lamezia Terme, is the work of Italy’s most prominent anti-mafia prosecutor, Nicola Gratteri, himself a Calabrian, who spent 30 years under close police protection, unable to lead a normal life.
Police wiretaps recently reportedly detected suspected Mafiosi referring to Gratteri as “a walking dead man”.
Like the Palermo trial, this case takes place in a specially fortified courtroom, which has been fitted with spacing between defendants and audiovisual connections due to COVID-19. The ‘Ndrangheta profited from the pandemic, allegedly skimming health funds and lending money to stricken businesses.
This trial differs from Palermo as it concerns only one group, the powerful Mancuso ndrina, or clan, rather than many as indicted by Falcone.
The prosecutor hopes that the trial will relax the tongues.
Earlier, less publicized trials established that the ‘Ndrangheta also had a hierarchical structure and confirmed links with Milan that had been denied by city officials. He exposed the rituals and quasi-religious terminology of the ‘Ndrangheta, which, like Cosa Nostra, dates back to Italian unification in the mid-19th century. Its name comes from a Greek word which is loosely translated as “men of honor”.
Unlike Cosa Nostra or even more so the American Mafia, the rural-based “ Ndrangheta ” has so far remained largely under the public radar, with its bosses living in remote villages and building intricate tunnels and underground hiding places. .
Based on blood ties, he was less inclined to informants than Cosa Nostra, whose code of omertÃ , or silence, was undermined by a bloody war between Riina’s Corleonesi and other clans. This made the Calabrian crowd more attractive to the South American drug cartels.
Gratteri and his team began to break that silence, with around 50 informants testifying at the trial, including a nephew of clan chief Luigi Mancuso, 66. This is one of the key aspects of the case.
The connection between Calabrian gangsters and politics was highlighted last month when the leader of a small national party, who was briefly involved in negotiations to end a government crisis, was brought under investigation by Gratteri.
The weapons of Italy against the mafia
Italy has powerful weapons against the mafias that are not available in many countries, including laws that allow it to try an entire organization in mass trials rather than individual criminals, and to confiscate the assets of gangsters and their relatives. It also has scanning wire taking powers.
Criminologists say the ‘Ndrangheta “pollutes” the countries it spreads to by corrupting everyone from politicians to police and judges, laundering its vast funds in legal ventures.
Fighting the Mafia internationally means a broad societal response, not just stopping violent criminals, and tackling the poverty and underdevelopment that allow the Mafia to thrive in southern Italy and elsewhere.
âTo fight this complex form of organized crime, you have to track the money and identify where the proceeds of crime are going,â said Anna Sergi, a criminologist at the University of Essex in England. “Targeting the power-mafia link is essential.”
Professor Antonio Nicaso, an organized crime specialist at Queen’s University in Canada, said that âthe Ndrangheta want to avoid publicity and only use violence when there is no alternative. âHe doesn’t want to create a social alarm. You shouldn’t just focus on the âmilitaryâ aspect, âhe told News Decoder.
âIt is an electricity system and a network, like a multilateral society, with the capacity to merge tradition and innovation. Its ultimate goal is power. The drug economy is not parallel to the legal economy but is integrated into it. There is corruption without the mafia, but no mafia without corruption.
Gratteri accuses the ‘Ndrangheta of having “suffocated” his home region, one of the poorest in Italy, but he admits that this trial will not destroy the union, which has proven to be extremely adaptable.
However, he believes the trial – dubbed âRebirthâ – will encourage more people to break their silence, paving the way for further trials and bringing the âliberationâ of Calabria.