An Italian appeals court has upheld life sentences against 16 members of the most powerful and violent clan of the southern Camorra mafia. The defendants, all linked to the powerful Casalesi family, were appealing 95 prison sentences including 21 life terms handed down in late 2005 after the biggest trial in Italian history.
They include the head of the clan, Francesco Schiavone, who is said to have run one of the bloodiest operations for decades from his home town near Naples. His second-in-command, Francesco Bidognetti, was also sentenced, along with deputies Antonio Jovine and Michele Zagaria who are both on the run.
Author Roberto Saviano exposed the mobsters’ activities in a prize-winning book. He was in court in Naples to hear the verdicts and said: “This is a real victory for those prepared to tackle the Mafia and I think it is the start of a real battle against the whole system, not just the Casalesi.”
Four people, either informers or their relatives, were assassinated in the run-up to the trial. That notwithstanding, around 500 people testified at the hearing, which became known as the “Spartacus” trial, and is being hailed as a victory for the state in its crackdown on organised crime.