A notorious Sicilian Mafia figure named “U Scannacristiani” or “The People-Slayer” was released from prison and sparked outrage in Italy.
Giovanni Brusca, 64, confessed to murdering more than 100 people, including Giuseppe Di Matteo, the 14-year-old son of a Mafia informant.
Di Matteo was kidnapped and held for almost two years before being strangled and his remains dissolved in acid for suspected collaboration with police, Brusca told authorities.
Arrested in May 1996, the following year, Brusca was sentenced to 26 years in prison for the murder of Giovanni Falcone, a prominent anti-Mafia judge, whom he killed with a remote-controlled bomb in 1992.
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The murder of Falcone, followed two months later by that of anti-Mafia magistrate Paolo Borsellino, was one of the most notorious episodes in Italy’s long and violent struggle against organized crime.
Brusca was also sentenced to 30 years in prison in 1999 for the murder of Di Matteo.
The following year he was behind bars for life, agreed to work with prosecutors, and confessed to a reduced sentence of over 100 murders in exchange for a reduced sentence.
He also provided investigators with information about several deadly attacks on the Cosa Nostra in the 1980s and 1990s and testified in a trial of alleged negotiations between Italian officials and gangsters to stop the bombings.
Although long awaited for his release, she has been criticized by Italian politicians and the families of his victims, including Falcone’s sister.
Maria Falcone said she feared the release of “a person capable of so much evil,” in a statement to the Facebook site the Giovanni Falcone Foundation, an anti-Mafia organization founded in memory of her brother.
Though her brother would have wanted the law – and with it Brusca’s release – to be respected, the families of Brusca’s victims would have to struggle with “the pain, anger and fear that an individual capable of so much evil” “Back to crime.”
She added that not enough was known about his initial “cooperation with the judiciary” and that it was “full of shadows”.
Luciano Traina, who arrested Brusca after losing his brother and his colleague to Mafia violence, told the Italian newspaper la Repubblica that he would “never forgive” him.
Political leaders, including former Italian prime minister and center-left Democratic Party leader Enrico Letta, have also criticized Brusca’s release. Letto told RTL 102.5 Radio station that the news came like a “punch in the stomach”.
The former interior minister and head of the right-wing extremist league party Matteo Salvini wrote on Facebook that it was “not the justice that Italians deserve”.
However, Italy’s top anti-mafia prosecutor Federico Cafiero De Raho urged people to remember that he had cooperated with the authorities.
“Let’s not forget that he gave information about bombings in both Sicily and mainland Italy,” he told Reuters.