An Italian court on Monday convicted more than 200 mobsters and their white-collar helpers, the culmination of a historic, nearly three-year trial against Calabria’s notorious ’Ndrangheta mafia.
For more than an hour and a half, Brigida Cavasino, president of the court in southern Vibo Valentia, steadily read out the names of the guilty and their sentences, which ranged from 30 years to a few months, as defendants incarcerated in prisons across the nation watched via videolink.
Prosecutors had asked for sentences totaling nearly 5,000 years for 322 accused mafia members operating in the Calabrian province of Vibo Valentia and their collaborators who have exercised a virtual stranglehold over the local population.
However, after a trial that lasted two years and nine months, the court doled out under half that total time, about 2,150 years collectively, with the convictions of 207 defendants. That included four seasoned members of the ’Ndrangheta each sentenced to three decades in jail.
The three-judge panel acquitted 131 defendants, including one whom prosecutors said controlled mafia activities within the prison and another accused of helping commandeer a public road and adjoining private land to use for grazing sheep.
Underscoring the ’Ndrangheta’s close ties with the powerful, one of the trial’s most high-profile defendants was 70-year-old former parliamentarian and defense lawyer Giancarlo Pittelli, accused of being a fixer for the mafia. He received 11 years, short of the 17 years prosecutors had requested.
A few dozen family members sat in the back of the vast, narrow courtroom, squinting at the television screens for a glimpse of their loved ones in prison, and occasionally crying out with joy over a light sentence.
The verdicts — which can be appealed twice — capped Italy’s largest mafia trial in decades and, despite Monday’s acquittals, mark the most significant blow to date against one of the world’s most powerful organized crime syndicates.
Giuseppe Borrello, the local representative for anti-mafia association Libera, said the verdicts showed that prosecutors’ efforts were working, even if they fell short for all suspects.
“The road is still long, but it’s been charted out, that’s the most important thing,” Borrello said.
“The strong message it [the collective verdict] sends is that the sense of impunity that has very often been felt in our territory is gone,” he said.
The ’Ndrangheta has flourished beyond its roots in the poor region of Calabria, at the toe of Italy’s boot, to exercise a near-monopoly on the European cocaine trade, and is now found in more than 40 countries worldwide.
Since the trial began in January 2021, the court has heard thousands of hours of testimony, including from more than 50 former mafia operatives turned state witnesses, detailing countless examples of the ’Ndrangheta’s brutality and its iron grip on the territory.
WHEELING AND DEALING? Hou You-yi, Ko Wen-je, Eric Chu and Ma Ying-jeou are under investigation for allegedly offering bribes for the other side to drop out of the race Taipei prosecutors have started an investigation into allegations that four top politicians involved in attempts to form a “blue-white” presidential ticket have contravened election regulations. Listed as defendants are Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫), former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲). The case stemmed from judicial complaints filed last month with the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office alleging that the KMT (blue) and the TPP (white) had engaged in bribery by offering money or other enticements
ELIGIBLE FOR JANUARY: All presidential candidates and their running mates meet the requirements to run for office, and none hold dual citizenship, the CEC said Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Legislator and vice presidential candidate Cynthia Wu (吳欣盈) is working with the Central Election Commission (CEC) to resolve issues with her financial disclosure statement, a spokesman for the candidate said yesterday, after the commission published the statements of all three presidential candidates and their running mates, while confirming their eligibility to run in the Jan. 13 election. Wu’s office spokesman, Chen Yu-cheng (陳宥丞), said the candidate encountered unforeseen difficulties disclosing her husband’s finances due to being suddenly thrust into the campaign. She is also the first vice presidential nominee to have a foreign spouse, complicating the reporting of
GOOD NEWS: Although open civic spaces are shrinking in Asia-Pacific countries and territories, Taiwan’s openness is a positive sign, an expert said Taiwan remains the only country in Asia with an “open” civic space for the fifth consecutive year, the Civicus Monitor said in a report released yesterday. The People Power Under Attack 2023 report named Taiwan as one of only 37 open countries or territories out of 198 globally, and the only one in Asia. Compiled by Civicus — a global alliance of civil society organizations dedicated to bolstering civil action — the ranking compiled annually since 2017 measures the state of freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression around the world. Researchers assign each country or territory one of five rankings describing the
NOT JUST CHIPS: Although semiconductor processes are on the list, it also includes military technology and post-quantum cryptography to combat emerging cyberthreats The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) yesterday released a list of 22 technologies it considers crucial to the nation’s security and competitiveness, including the 14-nanometer semiconductor process and advanced chip packaging. For the first time, the council made a list of core technologies with an aim of preventing secret information about those technologies being leaked to foreign countries, which could put the nation’s security and the competitiveness of local industries at risk. For years, local semiconductor companies have faced challenges from talent poaching and theft of corporate secrets by Chinese competitors, who are seeking to rapidly advance their technology capabilities through