29 Years Ago The Mafia Killed Falcone, But His Ideas Are Still Alive

Falcone taught me that a better world is not a pipe dream, but a reponsibility of all of us.

giovanni falcone mafia
Magistrate Giovanni Falcone.

Falcone taught me that a better world is not a pipe dream, but a reponsibility of all of us

On May 23, 1992, the magistrate Giovanni Falcone, along with his wife and magistrate Francesca Morvillo, and the men of the escort, Antonio Montinaro, Rocco Dicillo and Vito Schifani, lost their lives.

Since I was a child, I grew up with the myth of Falcone, thanks to the stories of my mother who, with her sincere emotion and admiration, shared with me the revolutionary events of the so-called Maxi Trial carried out by that antimafia pool. Those men, through their commitment and sacrifice, tried to redeem that part of the country, Sicily, that for too long was left to its own devices, showing and teaching people that a different Italy, free from mafias and oppression, was not only possible, but also everyone’s right.

Therefore, each time they asked me who was my life model or my idol, my answer has always been one: that man with a coy smile and his anti hero attitude that, answering to the question ‘why are you doing this?’, used to answer “simple sense of duty.”

It is a fact that Giovanni Falcone was one of the most important magistrates who fought against organized crime in Italy. When in 1978 he joined the prosecutor’s office in Palermo, he revolutionized the investigation methodology, focusing on bank investigations. Falcone, before anyone else, understood that the mafia was a unitary body and that its various and articulate criminal activities, even when based far away from Palermo, were not the work of autonomous groups, but were attributable to a single entity.

We were in the 1980s, and Sicily was torn apart by mafia-type massacres. After the murder of Rocco Chinnici, a new structure to fight against organized crime, the antimafia pool, was set up. Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino were its lynchpins. Thanks to their detective work for six long years, the Maxi Trial, the biggest trial in the world against organized crime, represented the first serious blow to Cosa Nostra. The confession of Tommaso Buscetta, mafia turncoat, was crucial for the success of the trial. Buscetta chose to only speak to Giovanni Falcone, due to the human approach that the he had during interrogations.

At this point, Falcone knew too already much and had become a dangerous man. After the conclusion of the Maxi Trial, resulted in 19 life sentences and verdicts for a total of 2,665 years imprisonment, Giovanni Falcone was left increasingly on his own by the state. He was then dimissed from the antimafia pool and slandered by the press which started to claimed that, behind the work of the judge, there were mostly vanity and career ambitions.

This campaign brought to that May 23 of 29 years ago when, on the highway A29 between Punta Raisi airport and Palermo, nearby Capaci, half a ton of dynamite silenced forever that judge who first showed that it is possible to win the war against the mafia.

Since that day, and maybe even before, Giovanni Falcone has become a symbol for that part of Italy that fights against organized crime every day. That’s what Falcone is, and maybe even more. Falcone, by setting such an example, passed on to me his love for legality and justice, for freedom and equality, values that he had always pursued at the cost of sacrificing even his own life. Falcone taught me that a better world is not a pipe dream, but rather a reponsibility of all of us.

This is who Giovanni Falcone is for me and for many other people.

This is why, on the anniversary of his death, I would like to honor him with one of his teachings. Falcone used to repeat that “the mafia cannot be defeated with repression, but with education.” What Falcone wanted to say is that everyone can defeat the mafia starting from daily life, with the most simple actions and the refusal of certain kinds of conduct.

The mafia can be defeated when shortcuts are not taken, when the idea of screwing people over is abandoned and when the greater good is put ahead of personal interest. That’s the only way to keep his ideas alive. And only then, maybe, that May 23 of 29 ago will look less bitter than it looks today.

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