Massimo Carminati, a convicted gangster with links to far-right groups in Italy, along with dozens of politicians and businessmen, has gone on trial in Rome. Italy has stepped up efforts to battle organized crime.
Prosecutors in Italy say their year-long investigation has exposed systematic corruption within Rome's civil administration, involving politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen with links to gangsters.
Massimo Carminati, who was once a member of Rome's notorious far-right Magliana Gang, and his aide Salvatore Buzzi, a convicted murderer, are accused of operating the crime ring.
The accused did not appear in court; their testimonies were recorded through video links from high-security jails.
Former mayor Gianni Alemanno has also been investigated in a case dubbed as "Mafia Capitale" by authorities.
The scale of the case makes it one of the most significant anti-corruption investigations in Italy since the early 1990s.
Giosue Naso, Carminati's lawyer, rebuffed the charges against his client.
"He (Carminati) wants to clarify a load of things and believe me, he will do it," Naso told reporters. "In this whole story, the thing that bothers him most is his name being linked to the 'mafia' and drugs. He has absolutely nothing to with the mafia, and drugs disgust him."
Naso added that it was "a media trial, purely for the consumption of journalists."
shs/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)