Spartacus Trial

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The Court d'Assise President, Raimondo Romeres reads out the verdict of the final sentences on 19 June 2008. (Photo:EPA)

The Spartacus Maxi-Trial (Italian: Processo Spartacus) was a series of criminal trials that were specifically directed against the activities of the powerful Casalesi clan of the Camorra. The trial was opened at the Corte d'Assise of Santa Maria Capua Vetere in Caserta. It was named after the historical gladiator, Spartacus, who led a rebellion of slaves beginning near Vesuvius against the ancient Roman Empire. It was named as such, in recognition of the need to fight a revolt in the Casalesi clan's territory. The trial was initially chaired by its president, Catello Marano on 1 July 1998. It continued until 19 June 2008, when its final verdict was eventually read.[1][2]

The 10-year legal trial, charged 36 members of the clan with a string of murders and other crimes. The Casalesi clan exploited and extorted from every business and economic opportunity, from waste disposal to construction, to creating a monopoly in the cement market for their own building businesses to the distribution of materials. Building business would have to pay for the contracts, buy material from the clan and keep paying for protection. The clan also controlled elections.[3]

All defendants were found guilty and 16 sentenced to life imprisonment including prominent Casalesi bosses, Francesco Schiavone aka "Sandokan", and his chief lieutenant, Francesco Bidognetti. The other two bosses Antonio Iovine and Michele Zagaria were also given life sentences. However, at the time they were fugitives and are still absconding. They were on the list of most wanted fugitives in Italy, with international warrants for their arrest.[2][4] (Antonio Iovine was arrested on 17 November 2010, in Casal di Principe)[5] The other Casalesi clan members who received the life sentences were: Giuseppe Caterino, Cipriano D'Alessandro, Enrico Martinelli, Sebastiano Panaro, Giuseppe Russo, Walter Schiavone, Luigi Venosa, Vincenzo Zagaria, Alfredo Zara, Mario Caterino and Raffaele Diana.

More than 1,300 people were investigated, 508 witnesses gave evidence and 626 were interviewed in the trial which saw the heaviest penalties ever for organised crime with a total of 700 years of imprisonment. Over the course of the initial trial and the appeal, five people involved in the case were murdered, including a court interpreter. A judge and two journalists were threatened with death.[3][4] In all, 115 people were prosecuted, 27 life sentences, plus 750 years in prison were handed out to the defendants. On 15 January 2010, Italy's Supreme Court confirmed the sentence.[6][7]


  1. ^ (in Italian) Il maxiprocesso Spartacus e il silenzio della stampa, Cuntrastamu, 30 September 2005
  2. ^ a b (in Italian) «Processo Spartacus», 16 ergastoli ai Casalesi, Corriere del Mezzogiorno, June 20, 2008
  3. ^ a b Camorra get terms they can't refuse, Sydney Morning Herald, June 21, 2008
  4. ^ a b Godfathers of €25bn mafia family get life after epic trial, The Independent, 20 June 2008
  5. ^ Camorra Boss Antonio Iovine Arrested, Corriere della Sera, November 18, 2010
  6. ^ (in Italian) La Cassazione conferma le condanne al clan dei Casalesi, Corriere della Sera, January 15, 2010
  7. ^ (in Italian) La Cassazione conferma la sentenza: Sedici ergastoli contro i Casalesi, La Repubblica, 15 January 2010

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