After the 1992 attacks using dynamite that killed Judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino and their bodyguards, and those in 1993 in Milan, Florence and Rome organized by the Mafia Cupola and which terrorized the whole country, judges in Palermo have now ruled that the country itself was under attack from corrupt agents working inside the institutions.
Those who were attacking the democratic institutions were “dirty” heads of the Special Operations Group (ROS) of the Carabinieri, the very ones who were supposed to be hunting down the Mafia bosses, working hand in hand with the heads of the Cosa Nostra and with the complicity of Marcello Dell’Utri, who is said to have acted as a middleman for Silvio Berlusconi.
According to the popular judges of the Assize Court, this particular group of state officials, with the aim of stopping the terrorizing attacks, negotiated with the mafia bosses about the “papello,” the list containing their demands, which included the relaxation of the strict “41a” detention regime, and which the Cosa Nostra insisted the state must sign in return for stopping the bombings that were spreading death among innocents in the early ‘90s.
This is the final conclusion the judges reached in the trial of the so-called Mafia-State negotiations, a verdict that has arrived after a trial that lasted five years and six months and five days of deliberations in the bunker-like hall of the Pagliarelli prison.
According to the panel of judges, chaired by Alfredo Montalto, those who were responsible for these negotiations were the former ROS Generals Mario Mori and Antonio Subranni, each sentenced to 12 years, former Senator Marcello Dell’Utri, also sentenced to 12 years, former Colonel of the Carabinieri Giuseppe De Donno (eight years in prison), and the mafia boss Leoluca Bagarella, who got a sentence of 28 years. These defendants were all charged with the crime of attacking the political body of the state.
Massimo Ciancimino, the star witness of the trial, also got eight years for slander against the former chief of police Gianni De Gennaro, who was acquitted of complicity with the Mafia. However, the crimes of Giovanni Brusca—the repentant ex-mafioso who gave the order to dissolve little Giuseppe Di Matteo’s body in acid—were found to be beyond the statute of limitations.
All the convicted will have to pay €10 million in damages to the office of the prime minister. Former Minister Nicola Mancino, who was on trial for perjury, was acquitted.
The prosecutorial team at the trial was made up of prosecutors Nino Di Matteo, Francesco Del Bene, Roberto Tartaglia and Vittorio Teresi.
“Now we have the certainty that the negotiations actually took place,” Di Matteo said, satisfied, after the reading of the verdict. “This ruling officially recognizes that during the years of the massacres, some state officials were negotiating with the Mafia and bringing the requests of the Cosa Nostra to the institutions,“ the prosecutor said. “For the first time, the external relationships of the Mafia with the institutions during the years of the massacres have been officially brought to light, and it is significant that this ruling concerns a time period during which three different governments were in office: the Andreotti, the Ciampi and the Berlusconi government.”
According to Di Matteo, this ruling “says that Dell’Utri acted as a middleman between the demands of the Cosa Nostra and the Berlusconi government that had recently been installed at the time” and that “the relationship does not only involve Berlusconi the businessman, but goes all the way up to Berlusconi the politician.”
It was a “landmark ruling,” said prosecutor Teresi, and dedicated it to “Paolo Borsellino, Giovanni Falcone, and all the innocent victims of the Mafia.”
The ruling comes after years of controversy.
In the beginning, the investigation by the prosecutor’s office concerned an alleged plan for a coup during the ‘90s, involving the Cosa Nostra, some conspiring Freemasons, corrupt state officials and fascist subversion.
The investigation, opened by then-prosecutor Roberto Scarpinato, uncovered little and was eventually closed.
Then the case came back to life. For the first time, the prosecutors had a theory about a specific crime: a threat to the political body of the state, an offense for which mafia bosses Totò Riina and Nino Cinà were investigated, and that ended up raising plenty of controversy among jurists. Once again, the case ended up closed.
Then, in 2008, thanks to the revelations by Massimo Ciancimino, the son of the Mafia-tied former mayor of Palermo Vito Ciancimino, the investigation was reopened. Ciancimino Jr. told of negotiations with the Mafia begun by the Carabinieri of the ROS through his father Vito, in part confirming the confessions of repentant ex-mafioso Giovanni Brusca.
In the archives of the prosecutor’s office, the new file received the number 11609/2008.
After controversies, plot twists, and testimony by excellent witnesses like Ciriaco De Mita, Arnaldo Forlani, and Claudio Martelli, on July 24, 2012, the prosecutor’s office brought charges against 12 people.
However, not all the prosecutors of the investigative team signed off on the charges. The former head of the team, Francesco Messineo, first refused to sign off on ending the investigation and filing the charges, but then had second thoughts and eventually signed, while prosecutor Paolo Guido quit the investigation, in open disagreement with his colleagues Antonio Ingroia, Nino Di Matteo, Tartaglia Roberto and Francesco Del Bene.
The case file ended up containing many thousands of pages: testimony by ex-mafiosi, politicians, members of the police and magistrates, as well as hundreds of thousands of documents.
The prosecutor’s office was accused of wanting no less than to rewrite Italian history. On Oct. 29, 2012, the first pre-trial hearing was held before Judge Piero Morosini. Pre-trial proceedings would last five months.
On March 7, 2013, the pre-trial judge approved indictments against 11 people. Now, finally, the verdict has arrived.