Nine men charged with organised drug dealing and other offences whom German prosecutors have linked to Italian-based criminal groups refused to testify at the start of their trial in the western city of Karlsruhe on Friday.
“A person who sees nothing, hears nothing and says nothing lives to be 100,” a lawyer for one of the accused said as the proceedings got underway.
He described his client as a respectable pizza baker.
The men, who have 17 lawyers acting for them, face charges of large-scale drug-trafficking, one case of attempted murder, assault, arson and illegal possession of firearms.
They have largely refused to provide personal details but have all been linked by prosecutors to Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian Mafia and the ‘Ndrangheta, its Calabrian counterpart.
The trial was shifted from Konstanz in the south to Karlsruhe, the location of Germany’s top courts for reason of space, while it began under conditions of strict security.
At the start of the proceedings, the two Konstanz prosecutors read out a charge sheet of more than 100 pages for around 90 minutes.
The court has set aside 67 days for the trial.
The men, most of them of Italian origin, were residents of Germany’s Schwarzwald-Baar district near the border with Switzerland.