Italian mafiosi, politicians face trial in May

An Italian judge on Thursday ruled that 10 people, including mafiosi and politicians, will face trial for secret "state-mafia" negotiations held two decades ago to put an end to mafia terror attacks.

Judge Pier Giorgio Morosini said four former mafia godfathers, three former police chiefs and senator Marcello Dell'Utri, an ally of Silvio Berlusconi, should face trial for "violence and threats against state institutions".

Former interior minister Nicola Mancino will also be tried for providing false testimony and Massimo Ciancimino, the son of a former mayor of Palermo, will be tried for mafia association.

The trial will start on May 27 in Palermo.

There will also be a second trial under a fast-track procedure for former minister Calogero Mannino who is also accused of "violence and threats against state institutions".

That trial is set to begin later this month.

Prosecutors say that government officials and the mafia concluded a pact with the police as intermediaries to put an end to a series of mafia attacks in 1992 and 1993.

In exchange for halting its violence, prison conditions were allegedly eased for hundreds of imprisoned mafiosi.

Prosecutor Nino Di Matteo in January said that some state institutions "sought and obtained a dialogue with the mafia."

These discussions "convinced the mafiosi that setting off bombs was a good idea," Di Matteo said.

Anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino were assassinated by the mafia in car bomb attacks in May and July 1992.

Lawyers for Dell'Utri said the upcoming trial was "a useless waste of money and time" and said they were confident their client would be acquitted.