The man who detonated a bomb that killed Italian anti-mafia judge Giovanni Falcone in 1992 has been released from jail after serving a 25-year sentence.
Giovanni Brusca, a former member of the Cosa Nostra Sicilian mafia and known as the “people-slayer”, walked out of Rome’s Rebibbia jail yesterday.
Brusca remains unable to quantify the exact number of murders he was involved in. “Many more than 100, but certainly less than 200,” he said in a statement in a book about him titled I Killed Giovanni Falcone.
These murders included Falcone, his wife, and three police escorts who were killed in the 1992 bombing. They also included 14-year-old Giuseppe Di Matteo who was killed in 1996. Di Matteo was the son of a former member of the Cosa Nostra who had become a state informant. The boy was held hostage for more than two years before he was strangled; his body was then dissolved in acid.
Brusca was arrested shortly after Di Matteo’s death, and received a 30-year sentence for his involvement in the murder. In 1997 he was sentenced to 26 years in prison for the 1992 bomb attack.
In order to avoid life in prison, Brusca became a turncoat, helping state prosecutors crack down on organised crime in Italy. He provided details of deadly attacks from the 1980s and 1990s, and testified about alleged negotiations between mobsters and Italian officials to try to stop the surge of bombings across Italy in the early 1990s.
Because of his cooperation with the authorities, Brusca’s sentence was reduced and he was granted early release on 31 May this year.
Maria Falcone, the sister of Judge Falcone, said that she was “saddened” by the news, but added: “This is the law, a law that my brother himself wanted, and therefore it should be respected.”
The widows of the police escorts who were killed in the 1992 bombing were less understanding. “I am outraged, truly outraged,” said Tina Montinaro, widow of officer Antonio Montinaro, speaking to Italian news agency Adnkronos. “The whole of Italy should be indignant.”
Rosario Costa, another police widow whose husband was killed in the same attack, told daily newspaper Corriere della Sera: “He has collaborated with justice only to get the benefits.”
Politicians were also disappointed by Brusca’s release.
Matteo Salvini, the head of the right-wing political party Lega Nord, said: “This is not the ‘justice’ that Italians deserve.”
The mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, called Brusca’s release “an unacceptable disgrace, an injustice for the whole country”.
Federico Cafiero de Raho, chief anti-mafia prosecutor, struck a more neutral tone, telling Reuters: “Regardless of what one may think of the atrocities he committed at the time, there was a collaboration. Let us not forget that he gave information on bombings both in Sicily and in mainland Italy.”
“Clearly, the judges believed this was the appropriate jail term,” he added.
Brusca, now 64, will be on parole for four years and will be placed under state protection.
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