Giovanni Brusca, 64, a former Italian mafia boss, was released from prison on Monday (31) after serving a 25-year sentence for his confessed role in more than 100 murders, including those of judge Giovanni Falcone, who died in 1992, and Giuseppe Di Matteo, a 14-year-old boy who was strangled and dissolved in acid for being the son of a police informant.
Brusca was arrested in 1996, four years after setting off the explosive that killed Falcone, his wife and three bodyguards. He later became a whistleblower, giving authorities information to elucidate hundreds of other crimes in return for benefits and reduced sentences.
The murder of the judge, two months before that of Paolo Borsellino, another magistrate engaged in the fight against the Mafia, was one of the most notorious episodes in Italy’s long and violent fight against organized crime.
Maria Falcone, sister of the murdered judge, deplored the release of Brusca to the newspaper Corriere della Serra. “This is news that hurts me as a person, but it is the law, a law my brother wanted and must be obeyed.”
The widows of two of the bodyguards killed in the blast have expressed their displeasure with the decision. “Twenty-nine years later, we still don’t know the truth, and the man who destroyed my family is free,” Tina Montinaro (1) said on Tuesday. Rosaria Costa, whose husband was also killed in 1992, said Brusca had collaborated with the court “just to get benefits”. “It was not a personal and intimate choice.”
Brusca provided investigators with information about various actions by the Sicilian group known as Cosa Nostra, carried out in the 1980s and 1990s, and testified at a trial about alleged negotiations between Italian authorities and Mafiosi to arrest the attacks. According to Italian media, he must be on probation for four years.
“Whatever one may think of the atrocities he committed at the time, there was collaboration. Let us not forget that he gave information about the attacks in Sicily and in mainland Italy,” said the prosecutor Federico Cafiero De Raho, head of a mafia unit, at the Reuters news agency. “Obviously, the judges thought it was the appropriate prison sentence.”
Brusca’s release has been criticized by politicians on the right and on the left. The leader of the center-left Democratic Party, Enrico Letta, called the decision “a punch in the stomach that leaves you speechless”. “A person who committed these acts, who dissolved a child in acid, who killed Falcone, is a beast and cannot get out of prison,” reacted Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right League. .
Falcone, appointed by former judge and former justice minister Sergio Moro as the inspiration to take off his robe and take up a post in Bolsonaro’s government, was one of those responsible for launching Operation Clean Hands and worked against Cosa Nostra. Recognized abroad, he has received awards for his impartiality.
In 1992, the car carrying the judge and his wife, Francesca Morvillo, exploded as she drove down a road blown up by explosives. Brusca activated the detonator of more than 400 kilos of explosives hidden under the road from Trapani to Palermo. Falcone also conducted large trials in the 1980s, with gangsters shown inside cages, at the back of rooms built especially for these processes, in Palermo. Hundreds of them have been sentenced to life imprisonment.
Launched in 1992, Mãos Limpas revealed a major corruption scheme in Italy. Considered one of the largest anti-corruption operations ever in Europe and an inspiration to Lava Jato, the investigation landed around 3,000 people in jail and investigated businessmen, ministers and around 500 parliamentarians. .