Italy 'Ndrangheta group
Biggest mafia trial in decades opens
Prosecutor Nicola Gratteri speaks to the media as he arrives to the tribunal for the trial of 355 suspected members of the 'Ndrangheta mafia accused of an array of charges
BBC Online :
Hundreds of alleged members of Italy's most powerful mafia group are set to face justice in the country's biggest organised crime trial in decades.
The 355 suspected mobsters and corrupt officials were charged following a long inquiry into the 'Ndrangheta group.
More than 900 witnesses are expected to give evidence, and the charge sheet includes murder, drug trafficking, extortion and money laundering.
The trial began on Wednesday and is expected to last more than two years.
It is taking place in a specially modified building in the southern region of Calabria, which is at the heart of 'Ndrangheta territory.
The building, formerly a call centre in the town of Lamezia Terme, has been converted into a fortified courtroom to make space for the hundreds of people likely to attend the proceedings. No mafia trial has been held in Italy on such a scale since the 1980s.
Unlike the earlier trial, which ran from 1986 to 1992 and targeted a large number of organised crime families in Sicily, Wednesday's trial is aimed at just one group, the Mancuso family, which forms a powerful section of the sprawling 'Ndrangheta mafia.
The 'Ndrangheta are now the most powerful mafia in the country, and the Mancuso clan are said to operate mostly in the Calabrian province of Vibo Valentia.
During a recent pre-trial hearing it took more than three hours to read the names of the defendants, AFP news agency reports. They include politicians, police officers, civil servants as well as alleged members and accomplices of the mob.