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CRIME

Mafia trial for Duisburg slayings starts in Italy

Forty-three defendants went on trial this week from both sides of a deadly Italian mafia feud that led to last year's slayings of six clan members in Duisburg.

Mafia trial for Duisburg slayings starts in Italy
Photo: DPA

A closed-door hearing kicked off the fast-track trial on Monday that will last no more than three months, prosecutor Nicola Gratteri told AFP.

The feud between two clans of the ‘Ndrangheta mafia based in southern Calabria burst into the international limelight when the six were killed execution-style outside a pizza restaurant in Duisburg and their bodies were dumped in two cars nearby.

The defendants are entitled to a quick trial, which may result in greatly reduced jail terms, because they agreed to be judged according to the findings of the investigation.

The long-running feud between the Pelle-Vottari and Nirta-Strangio clans has claimed nearly 20 lives since 1991 and was already the focus of an investigation begun in 2006, before the Duisburg killings.

More than 30 members of the two clans from the small town of San Luca were arrested in a major dragnet two weeks after the Duisburg killings. The main suspect in the killings, Giovanni Strangio, 29, of the Nirta-Strangio clan, remains at large.

Eleven women are among those who went on trial this week, while three remain at large and are being tried in absentia. They face charges of criminal association as well as arms trafficking and illegal arms possession. Another 14 defendants will go on trial on November 11.

Italy’s Eurispes institute estimated ‘Ndrangheta’s turnover from trafficking in drugs and arms, prostitution and extortion last year at €44 billion ($65 billion), the equivalent of 2.9 percent of Italy’s gross domestic product. Germany is considered a particularly lucrative point of operations for the shadowy underworld group.

CRIME

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.

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