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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 November 2006, 11:16 GMT
Mafia men get 300 years in jail
Bernardo Provenzano
The men jailed are said to be Mafia boss Provenzano's lieutenants
Fifty-seven Mafia members who were close to supremo Bernardo Provenzano have been jailed for a total of 300 years, Italian media say.

A judge in Palermo, Sicily, convicted them for protecting Provenzano while he was in hiding.

Others were implicated in managing Mafia funds.

Provenzano, 73, spent four decades on the run before being arrested in April at an isolated farm near Corleone, close to Palermo.

Among the 57 convicted people, one group is said to have organised for Provenzano to travel to southern France to receive cancer treatment under an assumed identity.

Nicola Mandala, who was accused of planning the trip, was sentenced to more than 13 years in prison.

The longest jail sentences of 18 years were given to Benedetto Spera, a Mafia boss who controlled a region near Palermo, and Onofrio Morreale.

'Fast-track' trial

The trial was a fast-track one, whereby sentences are reduced when defendants enter a guilty plea.

In this case, the sentences were reduced by two-thirds, Italian television reported.

The decisions were not announced at the end of a trial but following negotiations between the defence and the prosecution, Ansa news agency reported.

Provenzano, who allegedly took over the Sicilian Mafia in 1993, is held in a top security prison in central Italy.

He is standing trial in Palermo for a series of murders.

While on the run, he was sentenced in absentia for more than a dozen murders, and 10 more arrest warrants are being re-examined.

Profile: Bernardo Provenzano
11 Apr 06 |  Europe

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