Who Killed Giovanni Falcone? ‘Don’t say murder, don’t say kill, it was destiny, it was God’s will’

Falcone-Borsellino
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Twenty-eight years later: Falcone and Borsellino are victims of Totò Riina’s ‘negotiating by bomb’ strategy. Victims and martyrs indeed, and of course heroes. Nevertheless, I always have a bitter taste in my mouth every year at the celebrations, and the feeling is not because of the inevitable rhetoric. Hypocrisy lurks in the air: slowly, too slowly, some officials and politicians of the times have started to admit that those were not only mafia murders… and this year, thanks to an outstanding TV programme of investigative journalism, facts and names put together helped clear the fog: unveiled before our eyes,  the unspeakable truth about the real senders behind the mafia begins now to take a precise shape…

Twenty-six years later, iconic anti-mafia magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, leading magistrates of the famed Palermo Pool, are national heroes. They are martyrs too, victims of the mafia’s ‘war on state’ in the early nineties that the Corleonesi launched after the Pool’s unprecedented success against the mafiosi in the late eighties; Falcone and Borsellino are victims of Totò Riina’s ‘negotiating by bomb’ strategy that will lead to the so-called ‘state-mafia negotiations’ in 1993-94 (as a recent court verdict has officially stated) and soon after to the birth of the Second Republic – the first Berlusconi government. Victims and martyrs indeed, and of course heroes. Nevertheless, I always have a bitter taste in my mouth every year at the celebrations, and the feeling is not because of the inevitable rhetoric. Hypocrisy lurks in the air: today, slowly, too slowly, some officials and politicians of the times have started to admit that those were not only mafia murders, that there were unnameable connections, that other entities were behind the slaughters, that the so-called pezzi deviati dello stato (deranged parts of the state) were responsible as well because of their alleged agreement with the mafia. It is never too late, since up to now the state’s highest representatives have suffered from total amnesia and only the mafiosi pentiti (turncoats) have talked. Who are these poteri forti behind the events, behind almost any important political crime in our country? Two years ago, I wrote that we’d never know for sure, we could only guess from the clues, but that I personally thought the suppositions were very close to the truth. The secret service deviati, which tried to destabilize democracy in the name of their fascist nostalgia, the secret Masonic lodges which shared the same aim and, some say, the international forces which wanted to maintain the Christian Democratic Party in power in the last period of the Cold War, Silvio Berlusconi and Marcello Dell’Utri who are now again investigated as mandanti a volto coperto (covered face senders) for those killings by the Florence magistracy (I express my opinion on this shocking accusation in ‘Trattativa stato-mafia’ sentence: The Berlusconi government’s deal with the devil confirmed, good omen for his recent official ‘rehabilitation). In 2018 I also hinted at the fact that Falcone and Borsellino were subverting the status quo, that is the First Republic born after the Second World War with a deal between the mafia and the conservative politicians, mainly the DC ones – not differently for the Second Republic. And that the truth could not be revealed, whatever the price.

Click to watch the programme

This year we are adding an important link to the assembling of the puzzle. “Dottore Falcone, you don’t know who you are fighting against. Not the mafia, but those who pay your salary. The state” says Massimo Ciancimino, a key witness, in the May 20, 2020 episode of the LA7 network’s TV programme Atlantide titled Capaci – storia finita mai. Atlantide is one of the best investigate programme on Italian television, a light of hope in a country in which the freedom of the press has actually been obscured since the 90ies, mainly because of Silvio Berlusconi ‘s policy. After summing up the events so far, new testimonies and witnesses move the story a step forward: not only the deranged secret services are behind the slaughters, but the State itself, in a degree of involvement which is surprising and left me incredibly bewildered. In the programme there are names and surnames of the important politicians involved. The mafia-state deal at the heart of the Italian Republic had to be maintained at any cost, and the sacrifice of the State’s top magistrates who did not stop investigating and prosecuting when they came across these unspeakable facts was a price to be paid. When the Christian Democracy collapsed under the Clean Hands investigation of the early 90ies, which revealed their total corruption, Berlusconi stepped on the political scene right on time: another partner, another deal to be reached with some bombs, some killings, some slaughters, the sacrifice of the best minds of the Magistracy. Just one final note: when I say the state, I don’t mean all its officials, but a bunch of very influencing political men most of them of the leading political party. And since every picture tells a story, the alleged kiss between the second longest-serving prime minister Giulio Andreotti and mafia ‘boss of bosses‘ Totò Riina in 1987 tells it so well.

foto di Pippo Martino, https://www.nuovosoldo.it/2014/09/08/il-bacio-tra-andreotti-e-riina/

Because of all this, an old Bob Dylan’s topical song titled Who Killed Davey Moore? came to my mind as, in 2018, I was watching former Palermo Pool magistrate Ayala, a personal friend of Falcone’s, declaring on TV that non fu solo una una strage di mafia (it was not just a mafia slaughter). The song is about the death on the ring of a black boxer named Davey Moore: who is to blame? , the song asks, since all the characters involved deny responsibility:

“Not I,” says the referee, / “Don’t point your finger at me …. “Not us,” says the angry crowd, / Whose screams filled the arena loud …  “Not me,” says his manager, / Puffing on a big cigar … “Not me,” says the gambling man / With his ticket stub still in his hand … “Not me,” says the boxing writer, / Pounding print on his old typewriter … Not me,” says the man whose fists / Laid him low in a cloud of mist,

Declaring themselves innocent, it is implied that they are all guilty. This song, as many other Dylan’s tunes, narrates an episode but it is actually a metaphor for a general truth, it describes the functioning of the racist American society of the early sixties, how the different components of a conservative society interact to maintain its structure intact. Just listen, for example, to Only a Pawn in their Game, the song Dylan performed the day of M.L.King’s I Have a Dream speech, to have a portrait of the utility of the Ku Klux Klan in the American society. That’s why this finger-pointing song came to my mind as I was listening to magistrate Ayala’s words: doesn’t it fit the Falcone murder as well, if we just change the protagonists? The song’s fake consolatory conclusion too seems to fit our case like a glove:

Don’t say ‘murder, ‘ don’t say ‘kill.’
It was destiny, it was God’s will.”
 Who killed Davey Moore,
Why an’ what’s the reason for?
 
 So, who killed Giovanni Falcone, why an’ what’s the reason for?
 
In conclusion, this is a passage from the chapter Looking back in Anger from my book on Berlusconi’s Italy dedicated to the two heroes and to the key witness I mentioned before. Thanks for reading it.

… Like in every gangster story, good cops exist, in our case they were the best expression of that ‘moral minority’ our country can boast: for the first time in mafia history the investigators didn’t stop when they came across the powerful and the politicians. And, like in many modern hard-boiled stories, they paid with their lives the challenge to the status quo.

I met Massimo Ciancimino in one of those Italian locations whose beauty may deceive the ingenuous stranger. In May 2010 he came to Modena, my hometown, to launch his book Don Vito. The event took place at sunset in the Renaissance gardens of the Estense household, the aristocratic family who ruled the powerful Ducato di Modena. The gardens are shaded by the huge Palazzo Ducale behind which the steeple of the Romanic cathedral called Ghirlandina peeped out towards the red yellow twilight sky. That was the first time I heard the expression ‘trattativa Stato – mafia’ and saw the ‘papello’. It was also the first and last time I met the man who would open another deep crack in the mafia – State embrace.

Massimo Ciancimino is one of the sons of the DC Sicilian leader ‘Don’ Vito Ciancimino who was Mayor of Palermo, and the ‘official’ liaison between the State and the mafia, in the 70s and 80s. Together with Sicilian journalist Massimo Licata, Massimo had just published Don Vito in whose first part he describes the perfect symbiosis between these two powers, in Sicily and in Rome, a balancing of supremacy which went on untouched for many years under the supervision of Giulo Andreotti (when the Allies landed in Sicily in 1944, they dealt with the mafiosi for help, not with the authorities). Andreotti, played by Toni Servillo in the movie Il Divo directed by Paolo Sorrentino (Servillo/Sorrentino won the 2014 Oscar with the movie The Great Beauty), was the dues-ex-machina of Italian politics before B.’s age. As I said in the previous part, Andreotti, DC absolute leader, is the very symbol of that period. He kept power on the conservative side and the biggest communist party in Western Europe out of the government. He was condemned for mafia many years after his exit from politics. Massimo had been chosen by Don Vito as his private secretary, so he knows all his father’s secrets and has all his documents to back up his revelations. The publication of the book followed Massimo’s decision in the first decade of the twenty-first century to denounce what he knew to the authorities, becoming one of the main witnesses of the Procura di Palermo directed by magistrate Antonio Ingroia.

Tough times for the pax mafiosa described by Ciancimino junior came when magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino reached Palermo. They formed the famed pool of investigators who for the first time worked as a team, building a database, sharing information and secrets that would not disappear if a single magistrate was gunned down by the mafia, invented the ‘pentiti’ – turncoats – system to get to know the mafia secrets, and, most of all, as just stated, didn’t stop when they came to face politics. In the course of their period they discovered, arrested, trialed and condemned many mafia bosses like never before, putting an end to the Andreotti age. The corrupt politicians could no longer count on confidence magistrates. They felt guaranteed no more. They started to be afraid, together with the bosses, because a very dangerous enemy had settled down in the rooms of the Palazzo di Giustizia – Marco Travaglio and Saverio Lodato write in Intoccabili – perché  la mafia è al potere (BUR, 2004). All this lead to the ‘Maxiprocesso’ – Maxi trial – against the mafia, which started on February 20, 1986, that saw at the bar 475 representatives of Sicilian families that dealt with drug dealing, murders, slaughters (…) History has shown that the trial, because of the serious investigations that had preceded it, was a real masterpiece (…) It took seven years to show what that trial had been: on January 30, 1992 the first section of the Court of Cassation confirmed the sentences. Falcone and Borsellino, today national heroes for the ’moral minority’, were both slaughtered in the summer of 1992 in the two most ferocious mafia murders ever seen, a whole piece of a motorway and a street in Palermo destroyed by an amount of dynamite that wanted to tell the nation that a mafia war against the State had started. The killing of MP Salvo Lima, DC Sicilian leader and Andreotti’s emissary, in March 1992 had already announced that the war was also against ‘traitor’ politicians. The list of dead-man-walking politicians was long and panic spread in the palaces of power in Palermo and Rome. Something had to be done to stop it: the alleged ‘trattativa’ was about to begin, the shadow of il Cavaliere in the background of the political scene ready to take the chance that the ‘trattativa’ and the Mani Pulite scandal, just begun, were offering him… an offer difficult to refuse!

Meeting Ciancimino in that Renaissance sunset made me feel strange, as if I was physically facing the existence of the mafia for the first time. We all know that the mafia is there when you don’t see it and nobody talks about it, so I was pleased when he dedicated my copy of his book to my children, saying that it’s them that have to know and ‘remember’ in a country in which all the protagonists of the events he describes have all entered a state of complete amnesia, a mafia typical attitude that goes under the name of ‘omertà’. This office is aware of the fact that that state of dangerous collective amnesia of the majority of the political-institutional representatives of the time has not been removed at all (an amnesia that has lasted twenty years) the magistrates of Palermo write in their Memoria a sostegno di rinvio a giudizio (memory in favour of the prosecution) of the twelve accused in the trattativa trial. Ciancimino junior has recently been arrested again for external concourse in Cosa Nostra and slander, but the magistrates in their Memoria state that on the one hand he has been a source of evidence of disputed reliability (he is accused of slander in this case), but on the other hand we acknowledge that his giving news and information, when and because checked, were precious.

The killing of Falcone and Borsellino, the murder of Salvo Lima, a series of mafia terror attacks to the heart of the country about to take place show that 1992 and the two years that followed were a key period, a phase that saw the death of the First and the birth of the Second Republic, a time saluted as an Italian New Deal that metaphorically brought corruption and the mafia straight to Palazzo Chigi, Palazzo Madama and Montecitorio. 1992 is also the year of the Mani Pulite – Clean Hands – investigation, established by another famous pool of magistrates. Mani Pulite shocked the country showing that the criminal attitudes in Palermo and Milan were two branches of the same tree, two intermingled aspects of the illegality and corruption that has permeated Italy to the core since its birth, national sports that would soon most likely find their champion.

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