18 Jul 2009

Prison sentences for Mafia protection rackets

8:31 am on 18 July 2009

A judge has jailed 49 members of a Mafia syndicate in Sicily - some for up to 20 years - for running protection rackets involving businesses.

The Italian government says it's a landmark case in the battle against organised crime.

The BBC reports all were linked to the 'Lo Piccolo' crime family.

Official figures suggest that up to 80% of businesses in Palermo pay protection money to Mafia criminals in order to continue their commercial activities.