The alleged ringleaders of Italy’s newest mafia go on trial on Thursday in a landmark case set to highlight systemic corruption in Rome and serve as a litmus test of the country’s battle against organised crime.
Massimo Carminati, a one-eyed gangster with a history of far-right links, stands accused with more than 40 alleged accomplices of operating a network that stole millions of euros from the city of Rome.
The racketeering contributed to the crumbling state of the capital’s infrastructure, strained its public services and helped bring down its mayor.
Among those brought to trial are local politicians, businessmen and city officials.
All are allegedly implicated in rigging tenders and other schemes designed to siphon off cash destined for public services ranging from rubbish collection to the reception of newly arrived refugees.
Hundreds more, including former mayor Gianni Alemanno, have been investigated in a case dubbed “Mafia Capitale” by prosecutors in charge of the biggest anti-corruption operation Italy has seen since the “clean hands” campaign of the early 1990s led to half the country’s lawmakers being indicted for taking bribes.
John Dickie, a British mafia historian and professor of Italian Studies at University College, London, said the case represented a significant precedent in the application of custom-made legislation that has been used effectively to combat the traditional mafias of southern Italy to a new organisation.