Italian Court Clears Former Interior Minister of Mafia Ties
Former interior minister Antonio Gava, a leading member of the Christian Democratic party which dominated Italian politics for decades, has been acquitted of collusion with the Mafia.
A court in Naples on Tuesday ruled on the cases of a total of 76 people, including members of Naples' Alfieri Mafia, who faced charges of homicide on dozens of counts, and five former members of parliament.
Gava, 70, and former socialist deputy Raffaele Russo were cleared of all charges. The public prosecutor had requested 10 years' imprisonment for the former minister.
In all, the court acquitted 17 people and found 59 others guilty, among them former socialist deputy Raffaele Mastrantuono, who was sentenced to six years in prison. Former senators Francesco Patriarca and Vincenzo Meo were given jail terms of nine and eight years, respectively.
The politicians had been charged with colluding with the Alfieri clan, one of the most powerful of the Naples Camorra, in exchange for its support in elections, and with backing companies linked to the Mafia in calls for bids.
During the five-year trial, 18 members of organized crime were sentenced to life in prison, including Pasquale and Salvatore Russo, who are living in hiding and were sentenced in absentia. The two brothers are believed to be the successors to clan chief Carmine Alfieri, who has been imprisoned for years.
The investigation that led to the trial covered the 12-year period between 1980 and 1992. Dozens of people were arrested in 1994.
Gava was only held 24 hours but has been sentenced to five years in prison in another case involving the payment of kickbacks. He has appealed the verdict.
His acquittal comes just over a year after former prime minister Giulio Andreotti, 81, was cleared of accusations that he also cooperated with the Mafia. Andreotti, also a former Christian Democrat and now a senator for life, welcomed Gava's acquittal -- NAPLES, Italy (AFP)
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