The “Capaci Massacre”. This is how the Italians talk about that day in May, when a heavy explosive charge pulverized a section of the motorway linking Palermo to the airport, near the exit for Capaci. Judge Giovanni Falcone’s armored car is thrown into the air. He, his wife and three members of his close guard are killed in the attack.
The 53-year-old Sicilian magistrate had just struck Cosa Nostra in the heart with the Palermo maxi-trial (1986-1992), of which he was one of the instigators (360 mafiosos convicted, including 19 for life).
The arsenal against the mafia has grown stronger
After the death of Giovanni Falcone, following the precepts he enacted, Italy reinforced its anti-Mafia arsenal: high-security prison regime, life sentences, rapid, concerted and decentralized means of investigation allowing magistrates and the forces of order to act almost in real time, increased use of collaborators of justice.
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“All these instruments have neutralized the most violent part of Cosa Nostra”, explains Salvatore Cusimano, a journalist known for having commented live on the first images of the Capaci attack broadcast by Italian Radio and Television (Rai). Now director of Rai’s Sicilian headquarters, he nevertheless insists: “If the mafia no longer shoots, no longer kills, it is not defeated for all that. »
The Ndrangheta maxi-trial – started in Calabria in January 2021 and calling 335 defendants to the stand – demonstrates this. And the frequent crackdowns and seizures of property from mafiosi publicized by the police (recently in Rome, Palermo, Messina) too. Not to mention the 14 municipalities dissolved last year due to mafia infiltration.
“Arrests, trials, sentences, sequestration of property are important but insufficient steps, strikes the historian Antonio Nicaso, author of about thirty books on organized crime. The mafias fight each other by creating jobs, investing in schools, research and culture. Unfortunately, this fight is not a political priority. »
President of the Parliamentary Anti-Mafia Committee, Nicola Morra also deplores unsuitable tools in the face of mafias that increasingly resemble globalized holding companies: “I have repeatedly recommended modifying certain aspects of our economic and banking law. For example to limit forgery in writing or the possibility for mafia to hide behind nominees. In vain. »
Towards a relaxation of the conditions of detention of the mafia?
Several renowned magistrates like Nicola Gratteri, on the front line in the fight against the sprawling Calabrian Ndrangheta, are also worried about the justice reform currently being discussed in the Senate. Under pressure from the European Court of Human Rights, it is notably a question of easing the conditions of detention of the mafia. However, some fear that this development will encourage them to no longer collaborate with the justice system in order to benefit from reduced sentences.
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“Very harsh towards those convicted of mafia, our prison system must evolve to better respect human rights. The problem is that a part of Italy continues to consider the mafia as criminals worse than the others, analyzes criminologist Anna Sergi. It might be time to demystify this vision in order to think about our anti-Mafia policies differently and, above all, in the longer term. »