Italy prosecutor wants mobsters, politicians to face trial over mafia talks

ROME, Jan 10 (Reuters) - An Italian prosecutor on Thursday requested trial for 11 people, including mob bosses as well as police officers and politicians, accused of holding secret negotiations to stop a wave of deadly mafia bombings in the 1990s.

Palermo prosecutor Antonino Di Matteo said senior politicians held talks with four Sicilian mafia bosses to try to end a string of bombings across Italy in 1992-1993 that killed 21 people, including judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.

The case has become a major controversy with accusations that the state was blackmailed by the mafia and that its readiness to enter negotiations encouraged some bombings.

Four convicted mob bosses, three politicians, three high-ranking police officers and the son of a convicted mobster are accused over the secret talks. The police officers and mobster's son acted as mediators in the negotiations, Di Matteo alleges.

Palermo preliminary court judge Piergiorgio Morosini will decide whether to order a trial after hearing defence arguments, judicial sources said. Hearings were held behind closed doors in the highly sensitive case.

In exchange for stopping the bombings, the Sicilian mafia wanted lighter sentences and softer jail conditions for convicted gangsters.

Falcone and Borsellino are still considered national heroes by many Italians, and their murders encouraged an anti-mafia movement.

Former "boss of bosses" Bernardo Provenzano, who was a fugitive for more than four decades until his capture in 2006, was removed from the list of those who potentially could face trial because he is in extremely poor health. (Reporting by Vladimiro Pantaleone in Palermo; Writing by Steve Scherer in Rome; Editing by Barry Moody and Pravin Char)