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Rome's Mafia Capitale case not Mafia, rules court

Court rules that 'Mafia Capitale' was not Mafia-style organisation.

The so-called Mafia Capitale case, also known as Mondo di mezzo, was a 'criminal' rather than a 'Mafia-style' organisation, according to a ruling by the Court of Cassation on 22 October.

The court's decision is expected to result in a new appeal process and re-evaluation of the sentences handed down to the 32 defendants involved in various capacities in the case which came to light in December 2014.

The case centred on the criminal infiltration of Rome's city hall and focused primarily on the embezzlement of funds destined for emergency housing for immigrants and camps for Roma people, but also includes other sectors such as waste management, recycling and parks maintenance.

The two key figures in the case were the notorious criminal Massimo Carminati, a former member of the Nuclei Armati Rivluzionari (NAR) neofascist terrorist group as well as the former Banda della Magliana crime gang; and his right-hand man Salvatore Buzzi who was caught on wire-tap in early 2013 boasting that the criminals made €40 million a year from immigrant funds, a racket "more profitable than drug trafficking."

The jail sentences currently being served by the so-called Mafia Capitale defendants, including Carminati and Buzzi (14 years and six months, and 18 years and four months respectively), are now expected to be reduced on appeal.

The ruling is a blow to Rome's mayor Virginia Raggi who told reporters outside the court: "This sentence still confirms the criminal association. We are working together with Romans to rise from the rubble they left us, following a path of legality and respect for rights. One thing I want to say to honest citizens: we keep going with our heads held high."

Matteo Salvini, head of the right-wing Lega party, commented immediately after the ruling: "It wasn't Mafia? What was it then, a voluntary association?"

Italy's deputy interior minister, Vito Crimi of Raggi's populist Movimento 5 Stelle, said: "Whether it's defined as Mafia or not, it doesn't matter. What happened in Rome remains a mountain of shit."

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