Wednesday, August 17, 2011
The reason Falcone knew the Mafia would kill him one day is that he spent most of his life trying to break their violent stranglehold on his native Sicily. He and his closest friend, Paolo Borsellino, both came from a neighborhood in Palermo where some little boys grew up to be Mafiosi. They grew up to be Judice, prosecuting magistrates. Falcone led the most successful prosecution of Mafia criminals in Italian history, the Maxi Trial of 1986-87, which lead to the conviction of 360 thugs.
Less than two months later, another car bomb assassinated Borsellino along with five policemen.
Afterwards, posters appeared all over Sicily, that read, “You did not kill them: their ideas walk on our legs.” The Sicilian people have kept that promise. Twenty years later, memorial photos of Falcone and Borsellino still adorn every public bus in Palermo. The Facebook page for Sostenitori Delle Forze Dell'ordine, an organization devoted to efforts against organized crime, regularly displays their photos and their words.
I was reminded of all this on Monday by my friend Leighton Gage’s blog about a crusading judge in Brazil, Patrícia Lourival Acioli, who was murdered last week by the death squads (made up of policemen!) that she had so bravely prosecuted. I hope she will be remembered and her ideas carried on, as Falcone and Borsellino’s have been. You can read her story at Murder is Everywhere.
The Mafia is a human phenomenon and thus, like all human phenomena, it has had a beginning and an evolution, and will also have an end. — Giovanni Falcone