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Capaci bombing

Capaci massacre.jpg
Aerial view of the bombing site on Highway A29
Location Capaci, Sicily
Coordinates 38°10′58″N 13°14′41″E / 38.18278°N 13.24472°E / 38.18278; 13.24472
Date May 23, 1992; 26 years ago (1992-05-23)
7:58 PM
Target Giovanni Falcone
Attack type
Assassination
Weapons Improvised explosives
Deaths 5
Suspected perpetrators
Sicilian Mafia

The Capaci bombing (Italian: Strage di Capaci) was an attack by the Sicilian Mafia which took place on May 23, 1992 on Highway A29, close to the junction of Capaci, Sicily. It killed magistrate Giovanni Falcone, his wife Francesca Morvillo, and three police escort agents, Vito Schifani, Rocco Dicillo and Antonio Montinaro; agents Paolo Capuzza, Angelo Corbo, Gaspare Bravo and Judge Joseph Giuseppe Costanza survived.

Salvatore Cancemi, who later turned pentito, described the Mafia's victory celebration that followed the Capaci bombing; Totò Riina ordered French champagne while they toasted.[1]

Bombing

Memorial of Giovanni Falcone in Capaci.

Falcone's killing was decided at meetings of the Sicilian Mafia Commission between September and December 1991, and orchestrated by boss Salvatore Riina, in which other targets were also identified.[2] Following the judgment of the Supreme Court of Cassation confirming the claims of the Maxi Trial (30 January 1992),[3] the Sicilian Mafia decided to start the attacks on political figures.

Between April and May 1992, Salvatore Biondino, Raffaele Ganci and Salvatore Cancemi conducted inspections at Highway A29 in the Capaci area to find a suitable place for the attack to be carried out.[4][5] During the same period, there were organizational meetings near Altofonte consisting of Giovanni Brusca, Antonino Gioè, Gioacchino La Barbera, Pietro Rampulla, Santino Di Matteo, and Leoluca Bagarella, where some 200 kilograms of quarry explosives were procured by Giuseppe Agrigento (mobster of San Cipirello).[5] The bins were then taken to the house of Antonino Troia (under the Capaci family),[5] where another meeting took place also including Raffaele Ganci, Salvatore Cancemi, Giovan Battista Ferrante, Giovanni Battaglia, Salvatore Biondino and Salvatore Biondo. During which the transfer of the other part of the explosive (tritium and RDX)[6] was carried out by Biondino and Giuseppe Graviano (head of the Brancaccio Family).[6]

Brusca, La Barbera, Di Matteo, Ferrante, Troia, Biondino and Rampulla repeatedly experimented with the functioning of the electrical devices that had been procured by Rampulla to be used for the explosion.[4] They also tested an electrical appliance at the agreed upon site on the highway, and cut the tree branches that blocked the view of the highway.[6] On the evening of May 8, Brusca, Barbera, Gioe, Troia and Rampulla ordered to arrange the thirteen barrels loaded with about 400 kilograms of explosives in a drainage tunnel under the highway.[6]

In the middle of May, Raffaele Ganci, his sons Domenico and Calogero and his nephew Antonino Galliano took care of monitoring the movements of the Fiat Cromas which carried Falcone and his entourage returning from Rome to Palermo.[6]

On 23 May, Domenico Ganci first heard from Ferrante and La Barbera that Fiat Croma had left for Falcone.[5] Ferrante and Biondo, who were stationed near Punta Raisi Airport, later saw the cars from the airport and warned La Barbera that Judge Falcone had arrived.[5][6] La Barbera followed Falcone's procession on a road parallel to Highway A29, staying in contact by telephone for 3-4 minutes with Gioè, who was stationed with Brusca on the hills above Capaci adjacent to the detonation site on the highway.[5][6] At the sight of the procession, Brusca activated the remote control that caused the explosion. The first car was hit full blast and thrown from the road surface in a garden of olive trees a few tens of meters away, instantly killing agents Antonio Montinaro, Vito Schifani and Rocco Dicillo.[7] The second car, carrying Falcone and his wife, crashed against the concrete wall and the debris, ejecting Falcone and his wife, who did not wear their seat belts, from the windscreen.[7]

Thousands gathered at the Church of Saint Dominic for the funerals which were broadcast live on national TV. All regular television programs were suspended. Parliament declared a day of mourning.[8] Falcone's colleague Paolo Borsellino was killed 57 days later, along with five police officers: Agostino Catalano, Walter Cosina, Emanuela Loi, Vincenzo Li Muli, and Claudio Traina, in the Via D'Amelio bombing.[9]

Investigations

In 1993, the Direzione Investigativa Antimafia managed to locate and intercept Antonino Gioè, Santino Di Matteo and Gioacchino La Barbera, who were heard on phone calls referencing the Capaci bombing.[10] After being arrested, Gioè committed suicide in his cell, while Di Matteo and La Barbera decided to cooperate with the government, revealing the names of the other executors of the massacre. To force Di Matteo to retract his statements, Giovanni Brusca, Leoluca Bagarella, Giuseppe Graviano and Matteo Messina Denaro decided to abduct his son Giuseppe Di Matteo, who was brutally strangled and dissolved in acid after 779 days of imprisonment.[11] Despite this, Di Matteo continued to cooperate with justice.[12]

Santino Di Matteo, Gioacchino La Barbera, Giovanni Brusca, Salvatore Cancemi, Giovan Battista Ferrante, Antonino Galliano and Calogero Ganci were sentenced to life imprisonment.[6][13] In April 2000 the Court of Appeal of Caltanissetta upheld all the convictions and acquittals, but also sentenced to life imprisonment, Salvatore Buscemi, Francesco Madonia, Antonino Giuffrè, Mariano Agate and Giuseppe Farinella.[14]

In May 2002, the Court of Cassation annulled the convictions at Court of Appeal of Catania, of Pietro Aglieri, Salvatore Buscemi, Giuseppe Calò, Giuseppe Farinella, Antonino Giuffrè, Francesco Madonia, Giuseppe Madonia, Giuseppe and Salvatore Montalto, Matteo Motisi and Benedetto Spera.[15] In July 2003 a part of the process for the Capaci bombing and the massacre of Via d'Amelio were brought together in one trial because they had been accused in common:[16] in April 2006 the Court of Appeal of Catania condemned twelve people, as they were deemed to be mandated by both massacres: Giuseppe Montalto, Salvatore Montalto, Giuseppe Farinella, Salvatore Buscemi, Benedetto Spera, Giuseppe Madonia, Carlo Greco, Stefano Ganci, Antonino Giuffrè, Pietro Aglieri, Benedetto Santapaola and Mariano Agate; Giuseppe Lucchese was acquitted.[17]

References