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Reportage. After a marathon trial, 36 defendants in a sweeping corruption case were sentenced to 250 years in prison.

Rome’s ‘Capital Mafia’ comes crashing down

The sentences were handed down after 20 months of hearings, 230 sessions and five hours convening in Chambers. Around 1 p.m. Thursday, the judges closed the first instance of the trial against corrupt officials commonly known as the “Capital Mafia.” The document read by President Rossana Ianniello includes different levels; it doesn’t only talk about the 46 defendants, and it goes beyond the map of the power system that has stormed in Rome for years.

The first blow is the accusatory hypothesis brought by the ADAs Paolo Ielo, Giuseppe Cascini and Luca Tescaroli, based on the investigations coordinated by the prosecutor Giuseppe Pignatone.

The most serious offense falls on the mafia-style corruption ring. The Capital Mafia is not a new form of mafia. The association of alliances, power players and interest groups is downgraded to a simple association to commit a crime.

Almost as a counterweight, there is deluge of sentences: For 36 people, they were sentenced to 250 years of imprisonment. Starting with Massimo Carminati and Salvatore Buzzi, the alleged leaders, who were sentenced to 20 and 19 years respectively (though less than what the prosecutor asked for).

In December 2014, in the Roman palaces of power, the “Mondo di Mezzo” operation collapsed. Hundreds of warrants were issued, the investigators launched the ultimate black thread linking business and public money, black waste plots and corrupt politics.

The investigation borrows the name from the theory formulated by Carminati, already considered a kind of liaison officer between the Nar and the Magliana Band. The Black One, intercepted, sees it like this: “The living are on top and the dead below. We are in the middle. So, it means there is a world in the middle where everyone meets.”

The almost secular alliance between fascists and masters, with its branches in the halls of power and criminal relationships, this time serves to build a predatory form of social mediation to secure the compensation chamber of a new parasitic bourgeoisie. The investment fund Carminati draws its own personal story, the myth of his invincibility and the history of his landings in the mists of so many ports in anti-communist Italy. “They called me King of Rome, The Blind, the Black of the Criminal Novel, the Suburra Samurai,” he says in one of the intercepts. “In my environment, these things make you ridiculous, they do not give you power.” But on another occasion, he boasts: “The king of Rome is coming here.”

Several times, while broadcasting in videoconference from the extreme isolation of 41 bis, he performed a scenic Roman greeting that seems made to feed the legends and swell the myths. Various known faces of the Roman far-right have been seen at Piazzale Clodio, following the hearings attentively.

But in Carminati’s “world of the middle,” the proclaimed states of emergency create sovereignty: they help entrepreneurs make money and politicians get more power.

Here comes the role of Salvatore Buzzi. The former detainee at the heart of a dense network of social cooperatives wrote in a 2013 holiday message: “Let’s hope for a year full of plunder, refugees, immigrants, displaced, minors, rain, so the grass grows enough to be cut and perhaps we get some snowstorm: hurrah for social cooperation.”

Buzzi’s story is intertwined with the one that speaks of the rights of the June 29 cooperative, the first of former detainees in Italy. When the “blind” Carminate urges Buzzi to “wear the miniskirt” and to “go to walk the pavement,” he refers to the new junta of Ignazio Marino. Some time later, he says, “Together with my leader, we will eat Rome.”

Among the politicians, the heaviest penalty hits Luca Gramazio, 11 years. He is the former municipal councillor and head of the PDL in the Lazio Region: he would use his position to plan the allocation of contracts. Instead, the former chairman of the capital’s assembly Mirko Coratti was elected on the PD list; he was sentenced to six years. Buzzi says he has “bought him.”

The Democratic Party counselor Giordano Tredicine was sentenced to three years, he is part of the family that runs food trucks and stalls in Rome.

From the left, Luca Odevaine, former head of mayor Walter Veltroni’s cabinet, and a member of the permanent committee on immigration, paid by Buzzi. He was sentenced to six and a half years: when the leader of June 29 pronounces the famous phrase that the migrant business is “more profitable than drugs,” he also refers to his services.

Andrea Tassone, also a Democrat, gets five years. He was the president of the municipality of Ostia, a commission for mafia infiltrations.

Instead, an old acquaintance of the extreme right-wing like Franco Panzironi, gets ten years. He is the CEO of Ama and Gianni Alemanno’s right arm: “He asked me 2.5 percent on a 20 million contract,” says Buzzi.

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