The lawyer of a one-eyed former terrorist accused of operating a network that syphoned off millions of euros from public services claimed on Thursday that Italy was “morally rotten” at the start of the biggest mob trial in modern-day Rome.
A total of forty-six local politicians and businessmen went on trial following the ‘Mafia Capital’ investigation that has rocked the city, laying bare a group of alleged mobsters whose reach extended into almost every part of Rome’s administration.
An army of 60 lawyers, scores of journalists, anti-mafia groups and members of the public crammed themselves into the courtroom in central Rome for the first of 130 hearings that will take place between now and July.
Thousands of wiretaps and hundreds of documents were examined ahead of the trial, which sees the defendants accused of using Mafia-style intimidation to gain contracts for everything from refugee centres to rubbish collection.
Photo: AFP/Getty ImagesGosue’ Bruno Naso, representing alleged ringleader Massimo Carminati, who lost an eye during a shoot-out with police in the early 1980s, dismissed the idea that violence was used to win public contracts, implying that it wasn’t needed. He said that corruption is everywhere in Italy.
“This country is morally rotten,” he said before the hearing began.
Carminati, and his right-hand man Salvatore Buzzi, a convicted murderer, were forbidden from the hearing for security reasons but were connected to the courtroom via video link. The noisy courtroom descended into silence when Carminati, dubbed ‘the last king of Rome’ by fellow criminals, spoke to confirm his name.
Both he and Buzzi have denied links to the mafia.
“Throughout this whole business, what has particularly annoyed Carminati is that his name has been linked to the words ‘mafia’ and ‘drugs’,” Mr Naso said.
“He has absolutely nothing to do with the mafia and drugs completely disgust him.”
Prosecutors say the racketeering in Rome has had profound consequences, bringing the city to the brink of financial collapse and aggravating the sorry state of its infrastructure and public services.
Much of their evidence is based on wiretaps. In one infamous recording,Buzzi was heard saying: “Do you have any idea how much I make on these immigrants?
Photo: AP“Drug trafficking is less profitable”.
Carminati was given a 10-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 and, prosecutors say, has reinvented itself in the form of Mafia Capitale.
He is also a former member of the Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari, a far-right group that was involved in the 1980 bombing of Bologna railway station which left 85 people dead.