Nearly 100 on trial in Sicily for suspected Mafia EU fraud


ROME — A trial began in Sicily on Tuesday for 97 suspected Mafia members and white-collar professionals allegedly in cahoots with mobsters in what prosecutors contend was a scheme that fraudulently garnered millions of euros in European Union agriculture funds.

In the indictment for the trial, in Messina, prosecutors alleged that local Cosa Nostra clans, with the aid of complicit notaries and bureaucrats handling the paperwork, managed to gain 10 million euros (now $12 million) in EU aid starting in 2013 for a sprawling area of grazing land in a park in eastern Sicily known as Nebrodi.

Helping investigators to uncover the alleged fraud was a local man who defied violent intimidation by mobsters, who raked his armored car with bullets. The whistleblower escaped uninjured.

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