Statue of slain anti-mafia prosecutor decapitated in Palermo

Unknown vandals in the Sicilian capital Palermo broke the head off a statue of murdered anti-mafia prosecutor Giovanni Falcone on Monday.

Statue of slain anti-mafia prosecutor decapitated in Palermo
Anti-mafia prosecutor Giovanni Falcone. Photo: Gerard Foulet/AFP

The statue's head was then rammed against the wall of the Falcone-Borsellino, which it stood outside, causing further damage to the nose and eye area.

“The damage and contempt towards the statue dedicated to Giovanni Falcone are very serious acts; even more so because they were also aimed at damaging a school which has for years carried out important work of awareness and social education,” said Palermo mayor Leoluca Orlando.

Prosecutor Falcone was killed in 1992 after a mafia hit-man placed a bomb under his car on a highway near the town of Capaci. The blast also killed the judge's wife and three members of his security detail.

Falcone, who was 53 when he died, spent most of his life trying to fight the mafia, bringing about the so-called ‘maxi trial' in 1986-1987, which led to the conviction of 342 mafiosi.

His killing was ordered by the mafia godfather, Toto Riina, who is serving multiple life sentences in prison.

The people who carried out the attack were arrested shortly after the crime, but recent years have seen further arrests in connection with Falcone's murder, with eight people – all of them already in prison for other crimes – charged in 2013.

READ MORE: How the murder of Giovanni Falcone marked a turning point for Sicily

An image of the statue's damaged head. Photo: Comune di Palermo

Just hours after the initial act of vandalism, Palermo authorities reported that a poster with a picture of Falcone had been burned outside another school in the regional capital.

Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni condemned the incident on Monday afternoon, saying: “Insulting the memory of Falcone is a weak show of cowardice.”


Italy’s president calls for ‘full truth’ on anniversary of Bologna bombing

President Sergio Mattarella said on Tuesday it was the state's duty to shed more light on the 1980 bombing of Bologna's train station, on the 42nd anniversary of the attack that killed 85 people and injured 200.

Italy's president calls for 'full truth' on anniversary of Bologna bombing

On August 2nd 1980, a bomb exploded in the railway station’s waiting room, causing devastation on an unprecedented scale.

Five members of terrorist groups were later convicted in relation to the bombing, the worst episode in Italy’s ‘Years of Lead’ period of political violence in the 1970s and 80s.

Most recently, in 2020, a former member of the far-right Armed Revolutionary Nucleus (NAR) was sentenced to life imprisonment for providing logistical support to those who carried out the attack.

But suspicions remain of cover-ups and the involvement of “deviant elements” within the nation’s security services, reported Italian news agency Ansa.

READ ALSO: Bologna massacre: 40 years on, questions remain over Italy’s deadliest postwar terror attack

“The bomb that killed people who happened to be at the station on that morning 42 years ago still reverberates with violence in the depths of the country’s conscience,” Mattarella said in a speech marking the anniversary on Tuesday.

“It was the act of cowardly men of unequalled inhumanity, one of the most terrible of the history of the Italian Republic.

A train compartment at Bologna station pictured following the 1980 bombing attributed to the neo-fascist terrorist organization Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari.

“It was a terrorist attack that sought to destabilise democratic institutions and sow fear, hitting ordinary citizens going about their everyday tasks.

“On the day of the anniversary our thoughts go, above all, to the relatives forced to suffer the greatest pain.

“The neo-fascist nature of the massacre has been established in court and further steps have been made to unveil the cover-ups and those who ordered the attack in order to comply with the Republic’s duty to seek the full truth”.

The bombing remains Western Europe’s fourth deadliest postwar terror attack, and one of the most devastating in Italy’s history.