Outrage as Sicilian mafia 'People Slayer' released after 25 years in jail
Catherine Newman
Giovanni Brusca, pictured in 1996, has spent 25 years in prison. /Tony Gentile/Reuters

Giovanni Brusca, pictured in 1996, has spent 25 years in prison. /Tony Gentile/Reuters


Italian mobster and former member of the Sicilian mafia Giovanni Brusca has been released from jail after serving a 25-year sentence. He is the man who detonated the bomb that killed judge Giovanni Falcone in 1992. 

Known as the 'People Slayer,' Brusca, 64, has confessed to his role in more than 100 murders, including the death of a 14-year-old boy, Giuseppe Di Matteo, who was killed and dissolved in acid because he was the son of a mafia informant. 

The Falcone killing, which was followed two months later by that of fellow anti-mafia magistrate Paolo Borsellino, was one of the most notorious episodes in Italy's long and violent struggle against organized crime.

Falcone's wife and three bodyguards were also killed in the attack after their car drove over a section of highway outside Palermo packed with 400 kilos of explosives, detonated by Brusca nearby. 

The wife of one of the bodyguards killed, Tina Montinaro, told La Repubblica newspaper she was "indignant" at Brusca's release.

"The state is against us, after 29 years we still don't know the truth about the massacre and Giovanni Brusca, the man who destroyed my family, is free," Montinaro said.

Falcone's sister Maria told the paper she was distressed by the news but "it's the law, a law moreover wanted by my brother and that should be respected."

She added that she was "saddened" by the news that the law gave Brusca the right to leave prison. 

Rosaria Costa, the widow of a policeman who died in the Falcone bombing, told daily newspaper Corriere della Sera: "He has collaborated with justice only to get the benefits, it was not a personal, intimate choice." 

Brusca, who also went by the nickname "The Pig," supplied investigators with information on several deadly Cosa Nostra attacks carried out in the 1980s and 1990s and testified in a trial over alleged negotiations between Italian officials and mobsters to stop the bombings. 

He has already been granted temporary leave from prison on several occasions and will be on parole for four years, according to Italian media. 

"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," chief anti-mafia prosecutor Federico Cafiero De Raho told Reuters.

"Clearly, the judges believed this was the appropriate jail term," he added.

Several Italian politicians have condemned Brusca's release. 

"This is not the 'justice' that Italians deserve," said Matteo Salvini, head of the right-wing League, which leads in the country's opinion polls.

The leader of the center-left Democratic Party, Enrico Letta, called it a "punch in the stomach that leaves one speechless." While far-right leader Matteo Salvini called Brusca a "wild beast who cannot get out of prison."

Claudio Fava, the president of Sicily's anti-mafia commission, doubted the value of Brusca's information provided to authorities about the 1992 attack on Falcone. 

"Certainly Brusca could have said much more than he did, he could have contributed much more to get to the truth of that period," said Fava. 

"Certainly now he won't do it anymore."

Source(s): Reuters ,AFP

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