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'Italian Job' family in court for smuggling

The syndicate stands accused of smuggling illegal diamonds and platinum out the country since 2001.

FILE: The syndicate stands accused of smuggling illegal diamonds and platinum out the country since 2001. Picture: RSC Inc.

JOHANNESBURG - An Italian family accused of masterminding illegal platinum and uncut diamond operation, which has been dubbed the 'Italian Job', has appeared in court.

The Times this morning reported that 70-year-old Giandomenico Mugnaioni, his brother and two sons appeared before the Palm Ridge Court on Wednesday following a lengthy police operation.

According to the report, police were allegedly able to infiltrate the family through a former girlfriend of Mugnaioni.

The syndicate stands accused of smuggling illegal diamonds and platinum out the country in an operation that dates back to 2001.

The trial was supposed to begin yesterday, but was postponed because of a separate application launched by the family to have their seized property returned to them.

Following five years of investigation, the accused face more than 50 charges of racketeering, money laundering, illegal possession of and dealing in precious metals.

The family denied any wrongdoing.