“I’m speechless”: Italian law on collaborators questioned after the release of the most notorious killer of the Mafia | Italy


AAt 5:57 p.m. on May 23, 1992, a car carrying Sicilian Mafia Prosecutor Giovanni Falcone was thrown into the air as a powerful explosion ripped through a 15-meter crater on the highway connecting Palermo to its airport. On a hill overlooking the devastation stood one of the Mafia’s most notorious killers, Giovanni Brusca, nicknamed you scannacristiani (the killer of people), who a few milliseconds earlier had detonated the 300 kilos of explosives placed in a culvert under the road. He killed Falcone, his wife, Francesca Morvillo, and three escort officers.

Brusca, 64, who is said to have murdered more than 100 people before breaking the oath of omertà and becoming a police informant, was released after 25 years in prison last week, thanks to a law defended by Falcone.

The news sparked an argument in Italy, where many politicians and far-right parties called his release outrageous and called for changes to the law granting sentence reductions to “repentant” gangsters, despite the fact that such measures have proven effective for Mafiosi and break the power of the Cosa Nostra of Sicily.

“I am speechless when I think that Brusca is a free man,” said Nello Musemeci, governor of the island. “People say, ‘It’s the law’; but if it is clearly wrong, it must be changed.

Far-right League leader Matteo Salvini described it as “not the justice Italians deserve”, while far-right rising star Giorgia Meloni said: “Twenty-five years is not enough not”.

Brusca is an avowed killer like few others. ” I am an animal. I killed more than 150 people and I don’t even remember their names, ”he told prosecutors after becoming an informant. Among his most heinous crimes is the kidnapping and murder of an 11-year-old boy, whom Brusca ordered to strangle and dissolve in acid.

Despite his violent past, magistrates and lawyers alike agree that without the now controversial law that Falcone, his most prominent victim, has advocated, Brusca would not have spent a day in jail. The number one killer of Cosa Nostra was arrested on May 20, 1996 in a villa in the province of Agrigento, thanks to information provided to the police by three former mafiosi.

“The indignation of family members of Mafia victims is certainly understandable,” said Giuseppe Di Lello, a former colleague of Falcone and member of the “pool” of anti-Mafia investigators in the 1980s. “Without this law, we would never have solved hundreds of crimes. This law is nothing more than a pact with former criminals in exchange for key information in the fight against organized crime. And like any pact, there is a compromise. ”

But Brusca’s early release is a bitter pill for the families of his victims. “Few people can feel more pain than I do towards one of the most loathsome individuals in our country’s history,” Giovanni’s sister Maria Falcone told The Guardian. “But my brother fought hard for this law, which led to the resolution of dozens of crimes and the arrest of many mafia.”

A law to formalize the figure of the “collaborator of justice” was first proposed by Falcone, who, in the early 1980s, understood the effectiveness of uprooting mafia clans from within their own ranks.

When in 1984 he persuaded Tommaso Buscetta, nicknamed the “Boss of the Two Worlds”, to testify against other mafia, the Italian authorities knew little about the Sicilian mafia. Falcone believed Buscetta had nothing to lose since his rivals had already murdered his two sons, followed by a brother, son-in-law, brother-in-law and four nephews and what he revealed to the prosecutor was the inner workings of the Costa Nostra: its rituals, organizational structures and illicit activities.

Thanks to his testimony, prosecutors ordered the arrest of nearly 500 Mafiosi, resulting in the so-called “Maxi Trial” which resulted in guilty verdicts for 338 criminals.

Since then, hundreds of Mafiosi across Italy have started to collaborate with magistrates and break the omertà, the once impregnable code of silence of the Mafia. But as the number of informants grew, public opinion became less tolerant of the sentence reductions for Mafiosi, who have been accused of manipulating the system to their advantage and never really repent of it. their crimes.

“The sentence reductions are based on a pact, not on repentance,” said Claudio Fava, chairman of the Sicilian anti-mafia commission and son of the late journalist Giuseppe, who was killed by the mafia in 1984.

“The state is not responsible for ensuring the sincerity of repentance. It is not a confessional. It is clear that 90% of the Mafiosi who become informants do so through strategy. My father was killed by a man who murdered over 85 people and was released last year after becoming an informant. I have nothing good to say about him, but thanks to his testimony, my father’s cold case was reopened after 10 years.

Almost all of the main mafiosi are now in jail thanks to Falcone, whose informers law also led to the arrest of members of the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta, considered to be Italy’s most powerful organized crime syndicate and characterized by strong blood relations and a foolproof code of silence. , which makes it virtually impenetrable. In recent trials underway in Calabria, brothers, nephews and children decided to press charges against parents suspected of criminals.

“If the Sicilian Mafia is weaker today, we owe a debt of gratitude to my brother and his law,” said Maria Falcone. “To abolish it would mean going back 30 years. It would mean that my brother’s struggle was in vain.

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