PALERMO, Sicily — The largest Mafia trial in Italy's history opened today for 474 people charged with crimes including drug smuggling and multiple murder. About 100 defendants were held in steel cages under police guard in the fortress-like courtroom.
Under Italian law, defendants and witnesses are not required to attend court sessions and of the 474 people charged, 115 remained at large and more than 100 were free on provisional liberty, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors say the trial, expected to last nine months, is a milestone in the state's fight against the Mafia.
The defendants are charged with a wide variety of Mafia-related crimes including 90 murders and criminal association.