The biggest mafia trial in decades has begun in Italy. The largest mafia clan is called the ‘Ndrangheta. The ‘Ndrangheta clan, is based in Calabria and considered by prosecutors to be the most powerful mafia group in the country.
Prosecutor Nicola Gratteri has spent the past three decades battling Italy’s most powerful mob group, the ‘Ndrangheta. He has given up any semblance of a normal life as he seeks to break its stronghold grip on his native Calabria.
On Wednesday, Gratteri launched one of the most ambitious legal assaults on the group, with the start of the largest mob trial in Italy in 30 years, putting 355 suspected gangsters and their associates in the dock with a variety of charges.
“The trial is being seen as a kind of liberation for Calabria, a turning point that should allow people here to regain a freedom that has been denied them for many years,” Gratteri said in an interview.
In 1992 the mafia murdered two of the leading prosecutors, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, as a reprisal for putting hundreds of mobsters behind bars.
Gratteri, 62, has had an armed escort ever since he first started investigating the ‘Ndrangheta in 1989, but is taking even more security measures.
Police said last week that they believe a woman farmer, who vanished in 2016, was killed and fed to pigs after she had refused to sell her land to one ‘Ndrangheta boss.
The Calabrian trial is expected to expose how the crime gang recruited an army of white-collar workers including lawyers, accountants, public officials, and court clerks to enable their operations.
Gratteri said: “Mafias change and evolve along with the rest of society. They get to look increasingly like the rest of us. The ‘Ndrangheta had put down roots across the wealthy north of Italy and in much of Europe, as well as Canada, the United States, and as far away as Australia.”
A court ruled last month that two out of the last five governors in the region of Valle d’Aosta in northwest Italy two had been elected with ‘Ndrangheta support, while a third governor had his request for help turned down.
Gratteri acknowledges that Wednesday’s trial, which is expected to last a year, will not destroy the crime empire, but he hopes it will mark an important step towards its demise by encouraging victims to come forward and denounce the mobsters.