Scores of Italian gang members, corrupt officials and crooked businesspeople have been convicted at the end of one of the largest graft trials Italy has seen.
Dozens of defendants were found guilty of a range of offences at the end of a hearing in Rome that laid bare a system of intimidation, extortion and bribes that was used to win multi-million euro city contracts for a “Mafia-style” network.
The largest sentence was handed down to the alleged ringleader of the operation, Massimo Carminati, who was jailed for 20 years.
His lieutenant, convicted murderer Salvatore Buzzi, was handed a 19-year prison term.
One-eyed Carminati was once a member of Rome’s far-right Magliana Gang, which became notorious during the 1970s and 80s for its brutality and use of extreme violence.
In a massive blow to prosecutors, a judge acquitted all 46 defendants on a key charge of Mafia association.
The prosecution had attempted to link the sophisticated scam to the Sicilian Mafia in the hope of securing longer sentences and to set a precedent to extend the use of anti-Mafia legislation beyond its application to groups such as the Camorra of the ‘Ndrangheta.
Smiling after a judge passed sentence, Carminati’s lawyer Naso said the trial had nothing to do with the Mafia.
Prosecutors, who had been looking for sentences of 28 years for Carminati and more than 26 years for Buzzi, said they would appeal the ruling.
Apart from Carminati and Buzzi, a number of high profile politicians and public officials were also handed lengthy sentences.
Former head of Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party Luca Gramazio was jailed for 11 years, while Mirko Coratti, former head of the centre-left Democratic Party at Rome city council, was handed a six-year sentence.
Another accomplice of Carminati, Riccardo Brugia, was sent to prison for 11 years.
Officials from across the political spectrum were caught up in the scandal, with figures from both left-leaning and right-leaning parties facing prosecution.
Only one of the defendants, a petrol station operator with alleged Mafia ties, was acquitted.
The majority of those who were found guilty were convicted of corruption-related offences.
The case, dubbed by Italian media as “Mafia Capital”, revolved around the theft of millions of euros from Rome authorities, which many have blamed for the poor state of public services in the Italian capital.
Speaking after the verdicts were handed down, Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi told reporters: “It is a very deep wound in the fabric of the city of Rome.
“What was clearly ascertained today is that there was a criminal association that was able to control the political choices of this city and we are paying for the damage, we see it every day.”