A one-time fascist and 45 other defendants go on trial in Rome, accused of running a mafia crime ring that allegedly skimmed millions of euros off city hall contracts. Diane Hodges reports.
It's the largest mafia trial in modern Rome, the so-called "Mafia Capital" investigation. Forty-six defendants are in the dock -- politicians, bureaucrats and alleged mobsters -- charged with working together to plunder millions of euros from the city's coffers. The alleged heads of the ring are Massimo Carminati, one-time member of a neo-fascist group, and convicted murderer Salvatore Buzzi. Both are currently in high security jails and are only allowed to watch the proceedings by video links. Carminati's attorney, Bruno Naso, says his client was eager for the trial to get underway. (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) LAWYER OF MASSIMO CARMINATI, BRUNO NASO, SAYING: "We've waited for a year for the chance to appear in front of the court and we can't understand why it took so long." Buzzi's attorney, Alessandro Diddi, insists his client has no connection to the scandal. (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) LAWYER OF SALVATORE BUZZI, ALESSANDRO DIDDI, SAYING: "What we want is that the truth comes out and the truth is that there is no association with mafia crime." Prosecutors have secretly filmed video which they say shows some of the accused receiving bribes, along with 36,000 hours of wiretaps to back up their charges. So it's no surprise the trial is expected to run until at least next July.