Crocetta, who had been president since 2012, quit after the details of a wiretapped phone conversation between him and his former doctor, Matteo Tutino, were published in Espresso magazine on Thursday.
During the call in 2013, Tutino allegedly said the former regional health councillor, Lucia Borsellino, “ought to be stopped, done away with like her father”.
Her father, Paolo Borsellino, was an anti-mafia judge who was killed by the mafia in a car bomb in July 1993.
Crocetta, a member of the Democratic Party, was criticized for not responding to the threatening words and asked to resign by his allies and by the opposition.
The governor justified himself, declaring that he “didn't remember” hearing Tutino.
“Maybe I was travelling, maybe along a higway, in a zone without phone signal,” he said.
Crocetta, who became president thanks to his staunch anti-mafia drive, concluded he is only a “victim of this situation”.
Palermo Prosecutor Francesco Lo Voi said the wiretap published by the magazine was not included in the documents for a trial against Tutino, who is now in jail for corruption.
Shortly after publication, Espresso said the details of the call were in a “classified file” of an investigation into Villa Sofia Hospital, where Matteo Tutino was the head physician of the plastic surgery unit until his arrest.
The management of wiretaps by judges and police, and their possible use by the Italian media as levers to pursue political goals, have ignited harsh controversy in the recent past, especially after several trials against former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, in which wiretaps were largely used.
Both left and right-wing parties have proposed laws to set tighter control on wiretaps, but the proposals were opposed by the public, who feared that the juridicial power would be weakened by such measures.
By Antonio Giordano