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Italy Starts Largest Mob Trial in Decades

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“This humble Calabrian family simply inherited some land located between parcels belonging to the Mancuso family,” Mr. De Pace said, referring to the Vincis. “Their son paid for his sense of justice with his life.”

Last week, the police revealed that a Calabrian farmer who disappeared in 2016 and whose remains were never found, was murdered and most likely fed to pigs for refusing to sell land she owned to a clan close to the Mancusos in the southern tip of Calabria.

Mobsters also often killed their own affiliates, if they did not follow their rules. The police are searching for the remains of a 35-year-old member of the clan who was shot and buried in a field in 2002, with the help of his own cousin, who later repented and is now collaborating with prosecutors. The killing’s was motivated by a suspicion that the man was gay, police officials in Calabria said.

The charges against the 325 defendants include murder, extortion, usury, money laundering, drug trafficking, corruption and belonging to a criminal syndicate. Prosecutors hope to prove collusion among mobsters and public officials, politicians, businessmen and members of secret lodges, an inextricable web of interests and favors, in Calabria and elsewhere in Italy.

Mr. Gratteri, a Calabrian who has been living under police protection for three decades, entered the courtroom surrounded by bodyguards.

He said that he was even more cautious now with the trial underway. But he said holding the trial in Calabria, where residents have been “vexed and humiliated” by the mobsters for decades, was an important statement.

“It’s a sign that the state is capable of giving an answer,” he said, adding that the courtroom was built in a few months and allowed almost 1,000 people to attend the proceedings, sitting over a meter apart to comply with coronavirus social-distancing rules, with 150 screens connecting detainees sitting in prisons around the country.

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