Italy remembers anti-mafia judge Falcone on 32nd anniversary of bombing

Giampietro Vianello
Giampietro Vianello - [email protected]
Italy remembers anti-mafia judge Falcone on 32nd anniversary of bombing
Italian policemen stand in front of the memorial for anti-mafia judge Giovanni Falcone on the motorway to Palermo on the 30th anniversary of his assassination on May 23rd 2022. Photo by Alessandro FUCARINI / AFP

Italy on Thursday paid tribute to anti-mafia judge Giovanni Falcone, who was killed by the Sicilian mafia on May 23rd, 1992, in a car bomb murder that shocked the country.


Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi and Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano were in Palermo on Thursday morning to attend the inauguration of the Museo del Presente (‘Museum of the Present’) – a new museum focusing on the legacy left by Falcone and his colleague Paolo Borsellino, who was also killed by Cosa Nostra in 1992.

Authorities in Palermo were set to lay a wreath outside the city’s Pietro Lungaro police station at 1pm to honour the memory of the three escort agents who were killed in the attack. 

Another official ceremony was set to take place in the late afternoon in via Notarbartolo, in front of Falcone’s former Palermo residence, with participants expected to observe a minute of silence at 5.58pm – the exact time of the 1992 bombing.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella, whose brother Piersanti was murdered by the mafia in 1980 while serving as Sicily’s regional president, said in a statement on Thursday morning that the Capaci bombing was an outright attack “on Italian democracy” which sparked a nationwide “mobilisation of conscience” . 

He said that the names of those who were killed in the bombing are “etched in our history with indelible characters” and serve as “a statement of commitment to a conclusive victory over the mafia cancer”.

READ ALSO: How murdered judge Giovanni Falcone shaped Italy’s fight against the mafia

The life lessons taught by Falcone and his colleagues have demonstrated that the “mafia can be defeated and is bound to end” but “it is necessary to keep our guard up” to prevent mafia associations from “taking root in grey areas” of the state, Mattarella added.

Italian Judge Giovanni Falcone (2nd-L) arrives in Marseille, France

Italian Judge Giovanni Falcone (2nd-L) arrives in Marseille, France, in October 1986. Photo by GERARD FOUET / AFP

Mattarella’s words came just two days after former Carabinieri General Mario Mori was placed under investigation in connection with a series of mafia bombings that killed a total of 10 people and injured 40 more in 1993.

According to prosecutors in Florence, Mori had been notified of plans from the Sicilian mafia to carry out attacks in multiple locations around Italy, including Florence, Rome and Milan,  but failed to both give the “due warnings and notifications” and carry out “pre-emptive investigations”.

The Capaci attack was the first in a series of car bombings orchestrated by the Sicilian mafia from May 1992 to July 1993.


The mob used a skateboard to place a 500-kilogramme (1100-pound) charge of TNT and ammonium nitrate in a tunnel under Sicily’s A29 motorway, which linked the Punta Raisi airport to the centre of Palermo.

Falcone, driving a white Fiat Croma, was returning from Rome for the weekend. At a look-out point on the hill above, a mobster nicknamed ‘The Pig’ pressed the remote control button as the judge's three-car convoy passed.

The blast ripped through the asphalt, shredding bodies and metal, and flinging the lead car several hundred metres.

Falcone, his wife, and three members of his police escort were all killed instantly.

Less than two months later, on July 19th, Falcone’s colleague and close friend Paolo Borsellino was also killed in a car bomb attack, along with five members of his escort. Only his driver survived.

Falcone and Borsellino posed a real threat to Cosa Nostra, an organised crime group which boasted access to the highest levels of Italian power.

The two judges were later credited with revolutionising the understanding of the mafia, working closely with the first informants and compiling evidence for a groundbreaking 'maxi-trial' in which hundreds of mobsters were convicted in 1987.


The killings, just 57 days apart, resulted in a huge outpouring of public grief in Italy and sparked a major crackdown against the Sicilian mafia, ultimately leading to the 1993 arrest of boss Salvatore Riina, who had orchestrated the Capaci bombing.

Riina died in jail in 2017.

“The civic and cultural revolution that went along with the state’s crackdown dealt a hard blow to Cosa Nostra, which still bears its consequences to this day,” the president of parliament’s anti-mafia commission Chiara Colosimo said on Wednesday.



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