How the Assassination of an Anti-mafia Hero Changed Sicily


Sicilian judge Giovanni Falcone was murdered after handing down hundreds of convictions against the mafia.

The following article appears on The Local.

On May 23rd 1992, Sicilian judge and anti-mafia campaigner Giovanni Falcone was assassinated in broad daylight: a crime that marked a turning point on the southern island.

Falcone was killed by a bomb that was placed under his car on a highway near the town of Capaci.

A picture of anti-mafia judges Giovanni Falcone (left) and Paolo Borsellino (right) who were both assassinated by the Mafia.

The bomb, placed there by a Sicilian mafia hitman, also killed Falcone’s wife and three police officers.

Police officer Francesco Cerami, who was 16 years old at the time, last year spoke about his memories of the tragedy.

He remembered that an hour after the attack, Palermo’s typically bustling streets were muted with shock.

“There was almost complete silence,” Cerami said.

“The only sound was people asking, ‘Did you hear? Did you hear?’ It may have happened kilometres away, but for us it felt like the bomb exploded in the centre of the city.”

Falcone, who was 53 when he died, spent most of his life trying to fight the mafia, bringing about the ‘maxi trial’ in 1986-1987, which led to the conviction of 342 mafiosi. His killing was reportedly ordered by the mafia godfather, Toto Riina.

Falcone’s death marked a symbolic turning point in public opinion about the criminal organization, according to Carina Gunnarson, a researcher of modern mafia influence in Sicily. Continue reading at The Local.

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