Italy's most prominent anti-Mafia campaigner has appeared in court to sue the Mobsters who ordered his death.

In a high security Naples courtroom Roberto Saviano, the writer whose print expose Gomorrah and the hit film it spawned made him a household name, finally looked his enemies in the eye - six years after he was forced into hiding.

Saviano confronted Camorra bosses Francesco Bidognetti and Antonio Iovine via video link as he began the process of suing them - and two of their lawyers, Michele Santonastaso and Carmine D'Aniello - for threats and defamation, which he says came in a 2008 appeal hearing.

Through one of his lawyers, Bidognetti called Saviano "one of the prosecution's people for hire". The convictions of the bosses were confirmed in 2010 with other members of the Camorra's Casalesi clan, some in absentia - the last of whom, Michele Zagaria, was found in an underground bunker beneath his home north of Naples exactly a year ago.


All are serving life-sentences in solitary confinement in prisons hundreds of kilometres from Naples.

The ruthless Casalesi clan came to the world's attention following Saviano's book that revealed how it made hundreds of millions of euros each year by illegally dumping waste - much of it toxic, in addition to extortion rackets, drug trafficking, smuggling of illegal migrants and arms.

Prominent figures including former opposition leader Walter Veltroni and the editor of La Repubblica newspaper Ezio Mauro are expected to testify on behalf of Saviano.

- Independent