This handout picture released yesterday by the Quirinale press office shows President Mattarella (third left) with Maria Falcone (second left), the sister of late judge Giovanni Falcone, and Leoluca Orlando (centre) the mayor of Palermo, during a ceremony marking the 23rd anniversary of the assassination of top judge Giovanni Falcone on May 23, 2012 in Palermo.
Speaking on the 23rd anniversary of the murder of top anti-Mafia prosecutor Giovanni Falcone, Italian President Sergio Mattarella said yesterday that his country would prevail over organised crime.
“I am here to renew a promise: we will beat the Mafia, we will eliminate it from our society, because it is incompatible with freedom and human co-existence,” Mattarella said in Palermo, Sicily’s main town.
Palermo was hosting several events to honour Falcone, the man behind major investigative breakthroughs in the 1980s that led to the biggest-ever trial against the Sicilian Mafia, which saw the simultaneous conviction of 360 mobsters.
Mattarella, a Palermo native who saw his brother Piersanti gunned down by the Mafia in 1980, was the keynote speaker at a ceremony inside the special chamber built inside the Ucciardone prison to house the mass trial.
Interior Minister Angelino Alfano and Police Chief Alessandro Pansa laid flowers on the highway spot where Falcone, his wife and three police escorts were killed, while travelling in an armoured car convoy from the airport to downtown Palermo.
The Italian education ministry said more than 40,000 students, including about 100 from other European nations and the US, were slated to take part in various anti-Mafia rallies and marches in Palermo and six other cities.
One rally was being held in Corleone, a historic Mafia stronghold that was the birthplace of two top mobsters who have been convicted for Falcone’s murder and are now in jail: Toto Riina and Bernardo Provenzano.
Yesterday’s ceremonies were also honouring Paolo Borsellino, a close colleague of Falcone who was also assassinated in 1992.
The double killing triggered a major public outcry and led authorities to pass stricter anti-Mafia laws and arrest dozens of leading gangsters.
Falcone’s sister, Maria, was quoted by the Corriere della Sera daily newspaper yesterday as saying that fighting the Mafia had slipped down the list of priorities.
Her warning came two days after parliament approved a long-delayed anti-corruption law, seen by critics as too watered down.
“At this moment, it does not seem to be the main theme for the country and for the government,” she said, adding that European authorities were also underestimating the problem.
“Many chancelleries, many parliaments in Europe think that the Mafia is an Italian affair,” she continued. “They are making the same mistake on migration [...] They do not know that the Mafia and migrants are bombs that will blow up in their countries.”
Italy is home to at least three Mafia organisations: Cosa Nostra from Sicily, the ‘Ndrangheta from Calabria and the Camorra from Naples.
They are long known to have made inroads abroad, including in Northern Europe, Latin America and the US.
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