Suspects in the murder of a gay member of the ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate will be in the dock at one of the biggest Mafia trials in Italy’s history.
The trial will specifically target the Mancuso family, one of the most powerful families in the ‘Ndrangheta criminal network. The syndicate is Italy’s richest and most powerful, controls most of Europe’s cocaine and is based in Calabria.
In 2019, 355 ‘Ndrangheta members and collaborators were arrested and charged in an operation that involved 2,500 military police officers.
It marked the largest Mafia crackdown since 1984, when more than 450 members of Cosa Nostra, or Sicilian Mafia, went to trial.
The trial began in January and, earlier this month, testimony from an incredible 58 Mafia informants ended.
The hundreds of defendants will now make their way to the dock as part of the “maxi-trial”, appearing on screens in a huge repurposed emergency bunker.
The trial will take at least another year, according to AFP, with 900 witnesses and 400 lawyers involved. At one hearing, it took three hours to simply read the names of the accused.
Defendants are accused of a vast range of crimes, including intimidation, vote-buying, drug trafficking, extortion, bribing judges, forging medical certificates, storing weapons and corporate fraud, to name just a few.
Five murder cases will also go to trial, one of which is the murder of gay Mafia member Filippo Gangitano in 2002.
Powerful member-turned-informant Andrea Mantella is one of those who testified in court, and who has said he is responsible for arranging the death of Gangitano, his cousin.
When Gangitano, who had himself committed multiple murders, began living with a male partner, Mantella said the ‘Ndrangheta “could not tolerate” the “disgrace” of a member being openly gay.
Mantella maintains that he tried to convince Mafia bosses to have Gangitano expelled rather than killed, but his request was rejected, and as his cousin Mantella had to be the one to arrange the murder.
He invited Gangitano to a farm, he confessed, before having him shot. His body was placed in an animal feed sack and buried, before later being covered in tarmac.