Murdered judge spoke of Mafia's German link

Click to follow
The Independent Online
MORE evidence has emerged linking Germany with the murder two weeks ago of the Italian anti-Mafia judge, Paolo Borsellino. A confidant of Borsellino said yesterday that the judge had told him 24 hours before his death that he was on to something big, and had to fly back immediately to Germany to continue his investigations. German policemen, officials and politicians have warned that organised crime was moving into Germany as a place to hide and invest its ill-gotten gains.

Salvo Martorana, an officer in the paramilitary police, said in an interview yesterday that when he visited Borsellino in his office on the Saturday before his death, the judge appeared to be tense, and spoke in a hushed tone. 'I asked him how he felt. He answered, 'My dear Salvo, I can't trust anyone . . . I have just come back from Germany and I must return there on Monday.' He had thrown himself into his work with Mafia informers and had great confidence in them. That Saturday he said, 'I am desperate to get back to Germany, because I can't afford to lose any time'.'

Borsellino had won the trust of two suspected Sicilian hitmen, held in Germany since 1990 for involvement in the murder in Sicily of the Italian judge Rosario Livatino. It is thought that they had been providing him with vital information about the Mafia in Sicily and its expanding operations in Germany.

With Borsellino's death, that line of inquiry will almost certainly falter. A feature of the pentito (a repentant Mafioso) is that he establishes an intensely personal link with his 'investigating magistrate'. After all, by betraying the Mafia, he has placed his life in the magistrate's hands and must trust him absolutely. The biggest blows against the Cosa Nostra in recent years have always been inflicted by pentiti such Tommaso Buscetta, the first 'man of honour' to 'talk' after members of this family were murdered in clan wars. His evidence, given to Borsellino's close friend and colleague, the murdered Giovanni Falcone, ended with the jailing of some powerful godfathers in the 1980s.

The German connection is particularly important to the Mafia investigations for several reasons: investigators believe the two Sicilian pentiti can give information about an internal Mafia power struggle, and possible plans and chains of command involved in attacks on the judiciary.

But it may be more important in the longer term that the Italian government is deeply worried by signs that the Mafia is expanding into Europe, taking advantage of falling internal barriers to the movement of money and goods. Beyond the Community, the Mafia is believed to be moving into a chaotic post-Cold War Eastern Europe.

The organisation has long suffered from 'superliquidity', the inability to find 'clean' investments quickly enough for its dirty money. Buying up German retail chains, for example, is a way to recycle drug profits and gain a useful foothold for further operations.