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Former Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, the country's leading postwar statesman, went on trial Tuesday, charged with trading political favors in Rome for votes supplied by the Mafia . "Is it possible that a man who represented Italy for 50 years at the same time swore allegiance to Cosa Nostra?" his defense attorney, Franco Coppi, shouted to the Palermo courtroom. The 76-year-old Andreotti, a reputed crime-fighter who served as premier seven times, is the highest Italian official ever to be tried on mob charges. "Much of the testimony against Andreotti is supplied by pentiti -- repentant Mafiosi -- and 26 are scheduled to testify against him," Greg Burke reports from the trial. "There's considerable debate about how reliable the testimony of ex-Mafiosi is." To shore himself up, Burke adds, Andreotti wants to bring in former U.S. ambassadors to talk about his commitment in fighting the Mafia.