January 19, 2010

A Most Illustrious Corpse: Judge Paolo Borsellino Remembered*

Judge Paolo Borsellino
By Niccolò Graffio
“Times of heroism are generally times of terror.” – R. W. Emerson: Heroism, 1841
Paolo Borsellino was born in Piazza Magione, a middle-class neighborhood in the heart of the city of Palermo, Sicily on January 19, 1940. His parents, both pharmacists, were supporters of the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini and its exploits in Africa. This was a factor in his decision to study recent history as well as his later political orientation.

Growing up, he befriended a fellow soul who, like himself, would one day become a legend in the Italian judiciary: Giovanni Falcone. Years later, Falcone would once recall how he and Borsellino would spend their youth in Palermo’s popular Albergheria quarter playing ping-pong with other young men who grew up to become Mafia capos.

While studying law at the University of Palermo, Borsellino joined the Fronte Universitario d'Azione Nazionale (FUAN), a right-wing student organization affiliated with the neo-Fascist Movimento Italiano Sociale (Italian Social Movement). The soft-spoken Borsellino never tried to hide his political affiliations. Unlike many other magistrates around the world, he never allowed his ideas to get in the way of his work, and his honesty and integrity won him the trust and admiration of all his colleagues, including those on the other side of the political spectrum. Falcone (whose own politics were slightly left of center) once said of him: ‘One can trust Borsellino and he is a tireless worker.’ 

He graduated with honors in 1962, passing the judiciary exam the following year. In 1968 he married Angela Piraino Leto, the daughter of the President of the Sicilian Tribunal. In the interim he worked in many cities in Sicily, building up his reputation as a tough Mafia fighter. In 1975 he transferred to Palermo with another tough anti-Mafia judge, Rocco Chinnici, to begin in earnest his campaign against the Cosa Rostra.

It was Chinnici who, together with Paolo Borsellino, Giovanni Falcone, Giuseppe Di Lello and Leonardo Guarnotta, created the Anti-Mafia Pool; a group of prosecuting magistrates who worked closely together sharing information about the activities of the Cosa Nostra. The pool was created to prevent any one person from becoming the sole institutional memory and a sole target.

The strategy devised by these brave men was a simple but highly effective one. They would round up dozens if not hundreds of Mafiosi at a time, from the capofamiglie to the soldati, and try them simultaneously. The theory being that by doing so they would be able to chip away at the wall of omertà that surrounded the Cosa Nostra. The strategy would prove to be successful, but at a cost. The Sicilian Mafia was far more ruthless in its dealings with law enforcement than its American cousin. This no doubt was the pivotal factor in Benito Mussolini’s decision to unleash Cesare Mori, “The Iron Prefect of Sicily”, on the Cosa Nostra in 1926.

The 1980s would be remembered in Sicily as the “Years of Lead”. Rocco Chinnici was murdered (together with his two bodyguards and the concierge of his apartment block) in a car bomb explosion in Palermo on July 29, 1983. He was replaced as head of the Anti-Mafia Pool by Antonino Caponnetto. In spite of Chinnici’s murder, the activities of the Anti-Mafia Pool proceeded with full steam.

One of the first “big fish” brought down subsequent to the death of Chinnici was Vito Ciancimino, the former public works commissioner for the city of Palermo and the architect of the infamous “Rape of Palermo”, the systematic destruction of numerous landmarks around the city so that construction contracts could be “awarded” to Mafia-owned construction companies. The end result is that now large swaths of Palermo are nothing but an ugly concrete jungle. Though never actually convicted of any major crimes, Ciancimino was placed under “house arrest” in 1984 and allowed to live out his life in retirement, but never able to dabble in politics again.

Borsellino and Falcone were no fools. Both knew their days were numbered; yet they were unwavering in their dedication to what they were doing. In fact, they even joked about it! Falcone once wrote: “My colleague Paolo Borsellino came to see me at home. 'Giovanni,' he said, 'You must give me the combination of your safe, otherwise we'll never be able to open it when they kill you.’”

The magnum opus of the Anti-Mafia Pool was the so-called “Maxi-Trial” (Italian: Maxiprocesso) that began on February 10, 1986 near the Ucciardone (the Palermo prison) in a specially constructed bunker. The trial lasted until December 16, 1987. The most critical evidence presented hinged on the testimony of Tommaso Buscetta, a former Mafioso turned pentito (informant). Of the 474 defendants, both those present and those tried in absentia, 360 were convicted. Borsellino and Falcone continued to handle the case even after the end of the trial, turning down appeals and even getting previously successful appeals overturned. This sealed their fates.

On May 23rd, 1992 Giovanni Falcone, together with his wife Francesca (herself a magistrate) and three policemen were blown to bits by a powerful bomb that had been placed in trenches dug by the side of the road they were travelling over. Just two days previously, Borsellino, in his last video interview, spoke out about the possible links between the Cosa Nostra and rich (Northern) Italian businessmen such as Milanese billionaire and current Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Surprisingly (said with tongue in cheek), the interview was given little media coverage on Italian TV (half of which, by the way, is owned by Berlusconi). On July 19, 1992, less than two months after the murder of his dear friend, Paolo Borsellino was himself murdered in a car bomb attack, along with five police officers.

The murders of Falcone and Borsellino provoked an outcry among citizens all over Italy against the activities of the Cosa Nostra, and numerous arrests shortly followed. There can be no doubt the “Maxi-Trial” and subsequent arrests and convictions have put a crimp on the activities of the Sicilian Mafia, but what good is attacking the Cosa Nostra when organizations like the Camorra, Mala del Brenta and ‘Ndrangheta are waiting in the wings to take its place? Only a concerted attack on all these parasites (and the corrupt politicos and businessmen who protect them) will solve the problem once and for all. Sadly, that doesn’t appear likely as our beloved country, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, has long been submerged into the corrupt morass known as the Republic of Italy, which itself has been submerged into the globalist monstrosity known as the EU.

Gangsterism, together with its twin sister, Corruption, once having rooted themselves into a society, are almost impossible to root out, at least with the half-hearted methods currently employed by the effete West. If history is any guide (as it usually is), any society that wishes to free itself from these twin evils must first see them for what they are – sociological cancers. As any doctor will tell you, the “gold standard” in cancer care is surgery. The surest way to cure any cancer is to cut it out of the body entirely!

If we in the West are willing to put aside for one moment our sense of superiority about ourselves we would have to admit we need to look elsewhere for solutions to these twin problems. It is the opinion of this author the only nation on earth today with a sane national policy towards the problems of gangsterism and corruption is the tiny Republic of Singapore. Though surrounded by nations riddled with organized crime and corruption, Singapore is remarkably free of both.

Why? The Singaporeans maintain a zero-tolerance policy to crime. Capital punishment is meted out to the worst offenders (regardless of the perpetrator’s background) while long prison stretches await many of the rest. The Singaporeans also do not hesitate to administer corporal punishment (in the form of a good old-fashioned caning) to less serious offenders. Though Western elitists often pish-posh Singapore’s criminal justice system, or decry it as “barbaric”, the results speak for themselves.

Critics of the rebirth of Due Sicilie maintain such an entity would invariably wind up being the poorest country in Europe. I say the existence of Singapore, a tiny country with virtually no natural resources, proves otherwise! In addition to being a relatively crime-free society, its citizens enjoy a fairly high standard of living. If we employ many of the methods they use there is no reason why we cannot do the same! We have the talent, as previous articles posted on this blog should clearly have shown!

The choice, as always, is ours. Do we take control of our own national destiny, our own future as an ethnos, or do we leave it in the hands of those who clearly have shown themselves utterly incompetent (or worse) to the task? If the answer is the latter then men like Paolo Borsellino and Giovanni Falcone died for nothing!

*- “Illustrious Corpses” (or Excellent Cadavers) in Italian slang refers to personages (judges, prosecutors, police officers) murdered by the Mafia.

Further reading:
1) Excellent Cadavers (1995) Alexander Stille, Vintage.
2) The Antimafia: Italy’s fight against organized crime (1999), Alison Jamieson, Palgrave Macmillan

3) Cosa Nostra (2004) John Dickie, Coronet