Giulio Andreotti, a seven-time Italian premier and reputed crime-fighter, was indicted for allegedly consorting with the mafia over a lifetime. The 76-year-old Andreotti, Italy's leading postwar statesman, is the highest Italian official ever to be tried on mob charges. "It's really a tremendous charge," says TIME Rome correspondent Greg Burke. "They're claiming that he was a full-fledged member of the mafia. If it's true, it's a terrible indictment of Italian society." Building their case on testimony from Mafia turncoats and former members of Andreotti's Christian Democrat party, prosecutors painted a devastating portrait of a political patriarch who mingled with world leaders one moment, then traded favors with Sicily's underworld the next. In response, Andreotti insists he's been set up. He has waived his parliamentary immunity as "senator-for-life" in order to face trial Sept. 26.