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CRIME

Ringleader of ‘Mafia Capitale’ gang handed 20 year jail sentence

The ringleader of a gang whose criminal tentacles reached into almost every department of Rome's City Hall was sentenced to 20 years in prison by an Italian court on Thursday.

Ringleader of 'Mafia Capitale' gang handed 20 year jail sentence
A scene from the opening day of the trial in 2015. Photo: AFP

Massimo Carminati, 59, a convicted gangster with a history of involvement with violent far-right groups, had been accused along with 45 others of operating a “mafia-style” network that used extortion, fraud and theft to
divert millions of euros destined for public services into their own pockets.

His right-hand man and fellow defendant Salvatore Buzzi, 61, was handed a 19-year jail term by the court at the capital city's Rebibbia jail.

The scandal, which led to a 20-month trial in the high-security prison, had been dubbed “Mafia Capitale” by the media.

But judge Rosanna Ianniello said Carminati and Buzzi were guilty of corruption but not of mafia association.

“The sentence is stiff, but the whole trial revolved around the question: 'Was it mafia or not?',” Carminati's lawyer Ippolita Naso said.

“'Mafia Capitale does not exist,” she said.

Of the 46 people on trial, five were acquitted, including two men accused by prosecutors of being the link between the criminal band and the powerful 'Ndrangheta mafia in Calabria in southern Italy.

'Deep wound' 

Carminati and Buzzi were already behind bars in prisons in Parma and Tolmezzo where they were kept under the notoriously harsh 41-bis regime, aimed at cutting mafia inmates off completely from their former criminal associates.

“The 41-bis will have to be repealed. But who will give Carminati back the 22 months spent under it?” lawyer Giosue Bruno Naso said.

Carminati and Buzzi watched the verdict by video conference, Carminati standing to hear his sentence while Buzzi sat and took notes.

One-eyed Carminati was given a ten-year prison term in 1998 for membership of the Banda della Magliana, a criminal crew which ruled Rome's underworld in the 1970s and 1980s.

Carminati's brother Sergio told media at the court that the trial was “ridiculous. Massimo is still paying for the 1980s”.

In 1983, Buzzi received a 30-year prison sentence for the murder of an accomplice in a forged cheques racket.

He served only six years after pursuing his education and successfully portraying himself as a reformed character.

The Rome scandal had been a major factor in leaving the city so cash-strapped it can barely afford to repair its buses when they break down, fill potholes in its streets or prevent trees from falling over for lack of
upkeep.

Mayor Virginia Raggi said “a deep wound” had been inflicted on Rome by “a criminal association able to heavily influence the political decisions of this city,” adding: “We are paying the price every day”.

“We now need to stitch the wound back together by taking the path of legality – no easy task, we need to keep our eyes peeled at all times” for corruption, she said.

By Ella Ide

CRIME

Italian killer with mafia links arrested in France after 16 years on the run

A convicted murderer linked to one of Italy's most powerful mafia organisations was arrested on Thursday in central France, Interpol said.

Italian killer with mafia links arrested in France after 16 years on the run

Edgardo Greco, 63, is suspected of belonging to the notorious ‘Ndrangheta, a powerful mafia organisation in Calabria, southern Italy.

He is wanted in Italy to serve a life sentence for the murders of Stefano and Giuseppe Bartolomeo, and accused of the attempted murder of Emiliano Mosciaro “as part of a mafia war between the Pino Sena and Perna Pranno gangs that marked the early 1990s”, Interpol said.

The Bartolomeo brothers were beaten to death with iron bars in a fish warehouse, Italian police said.

Greco’s arrest in central France came with help for Italy and France from the “Cooperation against ‘Ndrangheta Project” (I-CAN) run by Interpol, which facilitates police cooperation between its 195 member states.

READ ALSO: Italian police seize €250 million and arrest 56 in latest mafia blitz

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi, quoted in Interpol’s statement, said the arrests demonstrated his country’s commitment to “fighting all forms of organised crime and locating dangerous fugitives”.

The ‘Ndrangheta is considered Italy’s most extensive and powerful mafia group, Interpol said, operating worldwide and with strong ties to the trade in cocaine bound for Europe from South America

I-CAN’s job is help raise awareness of ‘Ndrangheta and their modus operandi, sharing police information to dismantle their networks and operations, the agency said.

The arrest of Greco, who worked in the evenings in a pizza restaurant under an assumed named according to Italian media, came a week after Italian police said it had dismantled a ‘Ndrangheta mafia ring dominating a large area of southern Calabria and seized assets exceeding 250 million euros.

Fifty-six people, many already in prison, were put under criminal investigation for a series of crimes including mafia-related conspiracy, extortion, kidnapping, bribery and possession of weapons, police and prosecutors said.

The arrest of Greco comes just over two weeks after Italian police arrested one of the most notorious bosses of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra mafia, Matteo Messina Denaro, who had been on the run for 30 years.

The 60-year-old was arrested after visiting a health clinic where he was being treated in the Sicilian capital Palermo

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