|Died||23 May 1992 53) (aged|
|Cause of death||Assassinated by the Sicilian Mafia|
|Alma mater||University of Palermo|
|Known for||Investigations into the Mafia|
Francesca Morvillo (m. 1986)
Giovanni Falcone (Italian: [dʒoˈvanni falˈkoːne] ; 18 May 1939 – 23 May 1992) was an Italian judge and prosecuting magistrate. From his office in the Palace of Justice in Palermo, Sicily, he spent most of his professional life trying to overthrow the power of the Sicilian Mafia. After a long and distinguished career, culminating in the Maxi Trial in 1986–1987, on 23 May 1992, Falcone was assassinated by the Corleonesi Mafia in the Capaci bombing, on the A29 motorway near the town of Capaci.
His life parallels that of his close friend Paolo Borsellino. They both spent their early years in the same neighbourhood in Palermo. Though many of their childhood friends grew up in the Mafia background, both men fought on the other side of the war as prosecuting magistrates.They were both killed in 1992, a few months apart. In recognition of their tireless effort and sacrifice during the anti-mafia trials, they were both awarded the Italian "Medaglia d'oro al valore civile" (Gold medal for civil valour). They were also named as heroes of the last 60 years in the 13 November 2006 issue of Time Magazine .
Falcone was born in 1939 to a middle-class family in the Via Castrofilippo near the seaport district La Kalsa, a neighbourhood of central Palermo that suffered extensive destruction by aerial attacks during the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943. His father, Arturo Falcone, the director of a provincial chemical laboratory, was married to Luisa Bentivegna. Giovanni had two older sisters, Anna and Maria.Falcone's parents emphasised the importance of hard work, bravery and patriotism; he later said they 'expected the maximum' from him. At school Falcone would get into fights with larger children if he thought his friends were being picked on.
The Mafia was present in the area but quiescent; Tommaso Spadaro, a boy with whom he played ping-pong in the neighbourhood Catholic Action recreation centre, would later become a notorious Mafia smuggler and killer, but mafiosi were not a major presence in his childhood. As boys, Falcone and Borsellino, who were born in the same neighbourhood, played soccer together on the Piazza Magione. Both had classmates who ended up as mafiosi.Falcone grew up at a time when Sicilians did not acknowledge the existence of the Mafia as a coherent organised group; assertions to the contrary by other Italians were often seen as 'attacks from the north'.
After a classical education, Giovanni studied law at the University of Palermo following a brief period of study at Livorno's naval academy. Falcone and Borsellino met again at Palermo University. While Falcone drifted away from his parents' middle-class conservative Catholicism towards communism, Borsellino was religious and conservative; in his youth he had been a member of the Fronte Universitario d'Azione Nazionale(FUAN), a right-wing university organisation affiliated with the neo-fascist Movimento Sociale Italiano. However, neither ever joined a political party, and although the ideologies of their political movements were diametrically opposed, they shared a history of opposing the Mafia. Their different political leanings did not thwart their friendship. Falcone wanted a naval career but his father thought him too independent-minded for the armed forces, and sent him to study law.
Graduating in 1961, Falcone began to practice law before being appointed a judge in 1964. Falcone eventually gravitated toward penal law after serving as a district magistrate. He was assigned to the prosecutor's office in Trapani and Marsala, and then in 1978 to the bankruptcy court in Palermo.
In early 1980, Falcone joined the ‘Office of Instruction’ (Ufficio istruzione), the investigative branch of the Prosecution Office of Palermo. He started to work at a particularly tense moment. Judge Cesare Terranova, a former parliamentary deputy and Antimafia reformer who had been the main prosecutor of the Mafia in the 1960s, was to have headed this office, but he was killed on 25 September 1979. Only two months earlier, on 21 July 1979, Boris Giuliano had been assassinated; he headed the police investigation squad investigating heroin trafficking by the Mafia headed by Rosario Spatola and Salvatore Inzerillo. Taking Terranova's place was Rocco Chinnici, who was murdered by the Mafia in 1983.
On 5 May 1980, Giuliano's successor in investigating the heroin network, Carabinieri captain Emanuele Basile, was killed. The next day, the prosecuting judge Gaetano Costa signed 55 arrest warrants against the heroin-trafficking network of the Spatola-Inzerillo-Gambino clan. From Sicily heroin was moved to the Gambino crime family in New York, who were related to the Inzerillos. Chinnici appointed Falcone to investigate the case, one of the biggest Antimafia operations in more than a decade.Costa signed the indictments after virtually all of the other prosecutors in his office had declined to do so – a fact that leaked out of the office and eventually cost him his life. He was murdered on 6 August 1980, on the orders of Inzerillo. Falcone was given bodyguards the next day.
In this tense atmosphere, Falcone introduced an innovative investigative technique in the Spatola investigation, seizing bank records to follow "the money trail" created by heroin deals to build his case, applying the skills he had learned unravelling bankruptcies.He was probably among the first Sicilian magistrates to establish working relationships with colleagues from other countries, thus developing an early understanding of the global dimensions of heroin trafficking, while enhancing the ridiculously meagre investigative resources of his office. A colleague was astonished to discover that Falcone, who had no computers at his disposal, was personally recording the details listed on printouts of transactions that he had requisitioned from every bank in Palermo province.
He learned that the chemists of the French Connection had moved clandestine labs for refining heroin from Marseilles to Sicily. At the end of 1980 he visited the United States and started to work with the U.S. Justice Department, resulting in “some of the biggest international law enforcement operations in history” such as the Pizza Connection. The inquiries extended to Turkey, an important stopover on the route of morphine base; to Switzerland, where bank secrecy laws facilitated money laundering; and to Naples where cigarette smuggling rings were being reconfigured as heroin operations.At the end of 1981, he finalised the Spatola case for trial, which enabled the prosecution to win 74 convictions, based on Falcone's “web of solid evidence, bank and travel records, seized heroin shipments, fingerprint and handwriting analyses, wiretapped conversations and firsthand testimony” that proved that “Sicily had replaced France as the principal gateway for refining and exporting heroin to the United States”.
Falcone was plagued by a chronic lack of resources in his capacity as magistrate. A law to create a new offence of Mafia conspiracy, and confiscate Mafia assets was introduced by Pio La Torre but it had been stalled in parliament for two years, La Torre was murdered 30 April 1982. In May 1982, the Italian government sent Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa, a general of the Italian Carabinieri, to Sicily with orders to crush the Mafia. However, not long after arriving, on 3 September 1982, the General was gunned down in the city centre, his young wife by his side. Sicilians rose up in outrage. Outside the church, the politicians who attended were jeered and spat on, and blamed by Sicilians for tolerating the Mafia for so long. In response, the Italian government finally offered investigators the backing they needed, and Pio La Torre's law was passed 10 days later.
Falcone's responsibilities as a magistrate put tremendous strain on his personal life. In May 1986, he married his fiancée, Francesca Morvillo; Falcone had Mayor Leoluca Orlando himself conduct the private ceremony.
He became part of Palermo's informal Antimafia Pool, created by Judge Rocco Chinnici. This was a group of investigating magistrates who closely worked together sharing information and developing new investigative and prosecutorial strategies. Most important, they assumed collective responsibility for carrying Mafia prosecutions forward: all the members of the pool signed prosecutorial orders to avoid exposing any one of them to particular risk, such as the one that had cost judge Gaetano Costa his life. Next to Falcone, the group included Paolo Borsellino, Giuseppe Di Lelland Leonardo Guarnotta .
The Antimafia pool laid the groundwork for the Maxi Trial against the Sicilian Mafia at the preliminary investigative phase. Following Chinnici's murder in July 1983, Antonino Caponnetto headed the pool. Falcone's friend Antonio Cassara (who headed the police squad hunting fugitives) was murdered in 1985. Falcone led the prosecution for the trial, which began 10 February 1986, and ended on 16 December 1987. Of the 475 defendants—both those present and those tried in absentia—338 were convicted. 2,665 years of prison sentences were shared out between the guilty, not including the life sentences handed to the 19 leading Mafia bosses and killers, including Michele Greco, Giuseppe Marchese and—in absentia—Salvatore Riina, Giuseppe Lucchese and Bernardo Provenzano.
One of the most important factors in the trial was the testimony of Tommaso Buscetta, the first ever Sicilian Mafiosi boss to become an informant (pentito). His assertion that the Mafia was not a collection of separate gangs but a single organisation led some magistrates and detectives to question his credibility. After an interview, Falcone became convinced that Buscetta was genuine and treated him with respect. Buscetta's key revelation was that a governing council, known as the Commission or Cupula headed a collective structure, thereby establishing that the top tier of Mafia members were complicit in all the organisation's crimes. This premise became known as the Buscetta theorem.
When Falcone's record of success and high-profile led to resentment from some quarters, he was not given the job he coveted as chief prosecutor in Palermo. The new incumbent did not accept that the hierarchical Mafia structure revealed by the Maxi Trial actually existed, and he attempted to force Falcone to work on cases of wife beating and car theft. Falcone became so frustrated that he spoke of resigning. During 1988 Falcone collaborated with Rudolph Giuliani, at the time U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, in operations against the Gambino and Inzerillo families. Rumours impugning his integrity deeply troubled Falcone during this period.
On 20 June 1989, a sack filled with dynamite sticks was discovered near a beach house Falcone had rented in the town of Addaura by policeman Nino Agostino. Although Falcone had been threatened before, this failed attempt bothered him in the extreme because it had all the signs of an inside job. At the time, he was meeting Swiss prosecutors Carla Del Ponte and Claudio Lehman from Lugano who were helping to investigate the Mafia's financial holdings in Switzerland. Falcone believed that the assassination attempt not only involved the Mafia but some people in government as well.During the investigations into the money laundering networks of the Mafia, it became clear that former Palermo police chief Bruno Contrada, who had moved to the intelligence service SISDE, had warned a suspect about his impending arrest so that he could escape in time.
Falcone received an effusive congratulatory phone call from Giulio Andreotti after the narrow escape. Falcone privately thought it odd that Andreotti, who he had never spoken to, would suddenly contact him, and he mused about the significance of the incident to a friend.Unknown to Falcone the efforts to kill him were suspended while the Maxi trial verdicts went through the appeals process that had often set convicted Mafia members free. Later investigations into the murders of two police officers, Antonino Agostino and Emanuele Piazza, who worked for the secret service, revealed that they had secretly defused the bombs that had been placed by a Mafia commando aided by other secret service men. Agostino and his wife were killed on 5 August 1989 outside their home, and Piazza on 15 March 1990.
Exhausted and frustrated by the antagonism in Palermo, Falcone accepted a post in the Ministry of Justice in Rome offered to him by Claudio Martelli, the new minister of Justice in a new government of Giulio Andreotti in March 1991. The transfer was initially seen as a capitulation by Falcone, but he himself thought of it as a tactical move to better fight the Mafia. His first action was to prepare a decree to repair the disastrous sentence by Supreme Court judge Corrado Carnevale, known as the “sentence-killer”, that allowed most of the remaining defendants of the Maxi Trial to walk free from prison. The Martelli decree led to the immediate re-arrest of the Mafia bosses.
While in Rome he started to restructure the Italian prosecution system, creating district offices to fight the Mafia and a national office to fight organised crime.Next was his move to prevent Carnevale from reviewing the sentence of the Maxi Trial. In a blow to the Mafia, the Maxi Trial convictions were upheld by the Supreme Court in January 1992. To the surprise of many, Falcone's move to Rome was very successful. He achieved a genuine revolution in the judiciary. The Mafia began to realize that Falcone was even more dangerous in Rome than he had been in Palermo.
The Maxi trial sentences being upheld by the Supreme Court were a blow to the Mafia's prestige. The council of top bosses headed by Riina reacted by ordering the assassination of Salvatore Lima (on the grounds that he was an ally of Giulio Andreotti), and Falcone. Lima was shot dead on 12 March 1992.
Giovanni Brusca was tasked with killing Falcone. Riina wanted the murder carried out in Sicily in a demonstration of Mafia power; he instructed that the attack should be on Highway A29, which Falcone had to use to get from the airport to his home on his weekly visits.400 kilograms (881 lbs.) of explosives were placed in a culvert under the highway between Palermo International Airport and the city of Palermo, near the town of Capaci. Brusca's men carried out test drives, using flashbulbs to simulate detonating the blast on a speeding car, and a concrete structure was specially created and destroyed in an experimental explosion to see if the bomb would be powerful enough. Leoluca Bagarella assisted at the scene during preparations.
Brusca detonated the device by remote control from a small outbuilding on a hill to the right of the highway on 23 May 1992. Giovanni Falcone, his wife Francesca Morvillo and police officers Rocco Dicillo, Antonio Montinaro and Vito Schifani were killed in the blast. The explosion was so powerful that it registered on local earthquake monitors. Riina reportedly threw a party, toasting Falcone's death with champagne, according to the pentito Salvatore Cancemi.
Thousands gathered at the Church of Saint Dominic for the funerals which were broadcast live on national TV. All regular television programs were suspended. Parliament declared a day of mourning.His colleague Paolo Borsellino was killed in another bombing 57 days later, along with five police officers: Agostino Catalano, Walter Cosina, Emanuela Loi, Vincenzo Li Muli, and Claudio Traina.
In the major crackdown against the Mafia following Falcone and Borsellino's deaths, Riina was arrested on 15 January 1993, and was serving a life sentence, until his death in 2017, for sanctioning the murders of both magistrates as well as many other crimes.Another Mafioso convicted of the murder of Falcone is Giovanni Brusca, also known as lo scannacristiani (the people slaughterer). He was one of Riina's associates, who admitted to being the one who detonated the explosives.
Reports in May 2019 indicated that a Cosa Nostra insider revealed that John Gotti of the Gambino crime family had sent one of their explosives experts to Sicily to work with the Corleonesi Mafia clan to help plan the bombing that would kill Falcone.
Palermo International Airport has been named Falcone-Borsellino Airport in honor of the two judges and hosts a memorial of the pair by the local sculptor Tommaso Geraci. Monuments commemorating Falcone and the other victims of the Capaci bombing were placed around Italy, including in Peschiera del Garda. Falcone was posthumously awarded the Train Foundation's Civil Courage Prize, which recognises "extraordinary heroes of conscience".A monument to Falcone stands also at the FBI's National Academy in Virginia to honour his contributions to the "Pizza Connection" case.
This section does not cite any sources . (May 2020) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Paolo Borsellino was an Italian judge and prosecuting magistrate. From his office in the Palace of Justice in Palermo, Sicily, he spent most of his professional life trying to overthrow the power of the Sicilian Mafia. After a long and distinguished career, culminating in the Maxi Trial in 1986–1987, on 19 July 1992, Borsellino was killed by a car bomb in Via D'Amelio, near his mother's house in Palermo.
Giovanni Brusca is an Italian former member of the Sicilian Mafia. He murdered the anti-Mafia prosecutor Giovanni Falcone in 1992, and once stated that he had committed between 100 and 200 murders. He had been sentenced to life in prison in absentia for Mafia association and multiple murders. Brusca was captured in 1996, and turned pentito.
Salvatore Achille Ettore Lima was an Italian politician from Sicily who was associated with, and murdered by, the Sicilian Mafia. He is often just referred to as Salvo Lima.
Stefano Bontade was a powerful member of the Sicilian Mafia. He was commonly called Bontade but the actual surname is Bontate. He was the boss of the Santa Maria di Gesù Family in Palermo. He was also known as the Principe di Villagrazia − the area of Palermo he controlled − and Il Falco. He had links with several powerful politicians in Sicily with links to former prime minister Giulio Andreotti. In 1981 he was killed by the rival faction within Cosa Nostra, the Corleonesi. His death sparked a brutal Mafia War that left several hundred mafiosi dead.
Rocco Chinnici was a noted Italian anti-Mafia magistrate killed by the Sicilian Mafia.
The Maxi Trial was a criminal trial against the Sicilian Mafia that took place in Palermo, Sicily. The trial lasted from 10 February 1986 to 30 January 1992, and was held in a bunker-style courthouse specially constructed for this purpose inside the walls of the Ucciardone prison.
Michele Greco was a member of the Sicilian Mafia, previously incarcerated for multiple murders. His nickname was Il Papa because of his ability to mediate between different Mafia families. Greco was the head of the Sicilian Mafia Commission.
Francesco Marino Mannoia is a former member of the Sicilian Mafia who became a pentito in 1989. His nickname was Mozzarella. He is considered to be one of the most reliable government witnesses against the Mafia. Antimafia magistrate Giovanni Falcone, who was first to interrogate him, recalled Marino Mannoia as an intelligent and reliable witness.
The Sicilian Mafia Commission, known as Commissione or Cupola, is a body of leading Sicilian Mafia members to decide on important questions concerning the actions of, and settling disputes within the Sicilian Mafia or Cosa Nostra. It is composed of representatives of a mandamento that are called capo mandamento or rappresentante. The Commission is not a central government of the Mafia, but a representative mechanism for consultation of independent Mafia families who decide by consensus. "Contrary to the wide-spread image presented by the media, these superordinate bodies of coordination cannot be compared with the executive boards of major legal firms. Their power is intentionally limited [and] it would be entirely wrong to see in the Cosa Nostra a centrally managed, internationally active Mafia holding company," according to criminologist Letizia Paoli.
Cesare Terranova was an Italian judge and politician from Sicily notable for his anti-Mafia stance. From 1958 until 1971 Terranova was an examining magistrate at the Palermo prosecuting office. He was one of the first to seriously investigate the Mafia and the financial operations of Cosa Nostra. He was killed by the Mafia in 1979. Cesare Terranova can be considered the predecessor of the magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino who were also killed by the Mafia in 1992.
Salvatore Cancemi was an Italian mobster and member of the Sicilian Mafia from Palermo. He is the first member of the Sicilian Mafia Commission that turned himself in voluntarily to become a pentito, a collaborator with the Italian judicial authorities. Cancemi made controversial allegations about the collusion of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and his right-hand man Marcello Dell'Utri with the Mafia.
The Corleonesi Mafia clan was a faction within the Corleone family of the Sicilian Mafia, formed in the 1970s. Notable leaders included Luciano Leggio, Salvatore Riina, Leoluca Bagarella and Bernardo Provenzano.
Gaspare Mutolo is a Sicilian mafioso, also known as "Asparino". In 1992 he became a pentito. He was the first mafioso who spoke about the connections between Cosa Nostra and Italian politicians. Mutolo’s declarations contributed to the indictment of Italy’s former Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti and to an understanding of the context of the 1992 Mafia murders of the politician Salvo Lima and the magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.
The Second Mafia War was a conflict waged by the Sicilian Mafia, mostly taking place from the late 1970s to the early 1990s and involved over hundreds of homicides. Sometimes referred to as The Great Mafia War or the Mattanza, it involved the entire Mafia and radically altered the power balance within the organization. In addition to the violence within the Mafia itself, there was violence against the state, including a campaign of deliberate assassinations of judges, prosecutors, and politicians. In turn, the war resulted in a major crackdown against the Mafia, helped by the pentiti, Mafiosi who collaborated with the authorities after losing so many friends and relatives to the fighting. In effect, the conflict helped end the secrecy of the Mafia.
Leonardo "Narduzzo" Messina is a former Sicilian mafioso who became a government informant or "pentito" in 1992. His testimony led to the arrest of over 200 mafiosi during the so-called "Operation Leopard". Messina has implicated several politicians and government officials with ties to Sicilian Mafia, in particular Giulio Andreotti, seven times Prime Minister for Italy.
Francesco Madonia was the Mafia boss of the San Lorenzo-Pallavicino area in Palermo. In 1978 he became a member of the Sicilian Mafia Commission.
Baldassare Di Maggio, also known as Balduccio, is a member of the Mafia, who became a government witness (pentito). He helped the police to capture the head of Cosa Nostra, Totò Riina, and claimed that Riina respectfully kissed three-time Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti when they met in 1987.
Salvatore Riina, called Totò 'u Curtu, was an Italian mobster and chief of the Sicilian Mafia, known for a ruthless murder campaign that reached a peak in the early 1990s with the assassinations of Antimafia Commission prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, resulting in widespread public outcry and a major crackdown by the authorities. He was also known by the nicknames la belva and il capo dei capi.
Francesca Laura Morvillo was an Italian magistrate, wife of Giovanni Falcone and victim of mafia.
The Antimafia Pool was a group of investigating magistrates at the Prosecuting Office of Palermo (Sicily) who closely worked together sharing information and developing new investigative and prosecutorial strategies against the Sicilian Mafia. An informal pool had been created by Judge Rocco Chinnici in the early 1980s following the example of anti-terrorism judges in Northern Italy in the 1970s.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Giovanni Falcone .|