Giovanni Brusca or the victory of the State

The release of Giovanni Brusca has aroused wide reactions in the Italian public opinion. Brusca is one of the perpetrators of the Capaci massacre, the confessed perpetrator of hundreds of murders, including the brutal killing of little Giuseppe Di Matteo at the age of 14. Giuseppe’s body was dissolved in acid after the murder. Brusca repented and began to collaborate with the State. He is the only one among the collaborators who have served 25 years in jail and will continue to be a special guard for another five years. His confessions made it possible to destroy the military wing of Cosa Nostra in Sicily and allowed the final conviction of dozens and dozens of Mafiosi.

The reactions have been many, and many decomposed because the anti-mafia is not understood as a legal culture, expression of a Democracy by now, but rather a reaction to an emotional moment. IMD is a pseudonym behind a policeman and a writer who has worked for years in the Catturandi, in Sicily, the investigative unit dedicated to searching and capturing the most dangerous fugitives. He has personally participated in the capture of Bernardo Provenzano, Lo Piccolo and Brusca, among others. In his writings, he has recounted the complexity of the world of the most dangerous fugitives, the investigations and the strategies to be able to identify and reach them, bringing them to justice. Interview with IMD by Sergio Nazzaro.

What was your reaction to the liberation of Giovanni Brusca, what feelings did it arouse, or did you already know it would happen?

More than a decade ago (it seems like yesterday), I wrote about the arrest of Giovanni Brusca in one of my first books with the meaningful title “100%sbirro”, remembering it as one of the most significant events both professionally and humanly that had happened to me during my career as an investigator of the Squadra Mobile of Palermo (now almost thirty years). The reason is easily explained: it was the death of Giovanni Falcone, of his wife and of the men of the escort that pushed me to abandon my studies in biology that I had undertaken at the University to enlist as a volunteer in the ranks of the State Police, the only way I found in 1992 to quench my thirst for revenge against the so-called “men of honour” that I had begun to know and despise because they were responsible for direct and indirect suffering towards people I had learned to respect, love and even love. For this reason, for a young cop in his early twenties, a member of the legendary Sezione Catturandi of Palermo, arresting Giovanni Brusca, the beast, U verru, responsible for dozens of deaths, including the little Di Matteo and the men and women killed in the massacre of Capaci and then Via D’Amelio, could only be a stimulus and a primary objective, achieved that afternoon of May 20, 1996 in Cannatello in the Agrigento area. All this highlights that what I am about to say is not done by someone completely detached from the facts you ask me. On the contrary, I feel extremely involved.

Yes, I answer your question, I already knew it would happen, and I expected it. Even the 45 days discount was foreseeable since it applies to all subjects who maintain the behaviour in compliance with prison life (good behaviour). Therefore, as a man of the Institutions, I can tell you that I was not caught unprepared, and it is according to the law.

The reaction of public opinion guided by social networks and talk shows

I was very struck by the reaction of public opinion that did not take absolutely into account that Brusca did not come back home alone by his own decision, but there is always a State system that monitors and judges, but above all makes decisions based on laws.

Public opinion today is mainly guided by what it learns through social networks and talk shows, few people read newspapers and see the news, and even if they did, it seems to me that the quality of information is not adequate to the needs of a modern and democratic country. Therefore it is enough that the tam-tam starts, and the opinion becomes one and only one. It is extremely dangerous because those who have the tools to control social networks have the ability to direct public opinion, then the vote, politics and ultimately the regulatory system. When I meet young people in schools, I tell them: «go to the source of the news, study it well, form your own opinion of it, then if you think something is wrong, fight to change it, explain your reasons to others and together transform an idea into a law useful to all». Only a few have realized that the liberation of Brusca is the consequence of law – that I believe to be fair – and that the game is not over. For five years at least, Brusca will be subjected to a regime of very careful controls, and if he violates the agreements, he will return to prison.

Giovanni Brusca is debated because he is a well-known name among the most heinous Mafia bosses, but is he the only one set free? And doesn’t this public remonstrance show instead that on the subject of anti-mafia, we debate like if we were on social media?

“You are right when you say that Brusca is a well-known name. But a few weeks ago, some magistrates, including Dr. Nino Di Matteo, launched an alarm that underlined how many mafiosi had served their sentences and had returned free. No one has said anything about them, although they are also involved in many murders and have never disassociated themselves from their criminal group. On the other hand, there was little to say since they have served their sentences. My hope, which is also a certainty, lies in the fact that the judiciary and the forces of law and order keep their guard up, even if I must say that the latest scandals should push us to demand with force (I mean as public opinion) a real reform of the justice system.

Giovanni Brusca and the law on pentiti

Does the law on pentiti, which at the time also aroused indignation, remain a fundamental weapon in the fight against the mafias? Does it need to be revised or not?

I am not a legal technician, but a worker accustomed only to respect and enforce the laws. As I have already written and published in my essays 100%sbirro and Catturandi, I believe that the legislation on collaborators and witnesses of justice is an essential tool. I am not in a position to establish whether this law should be modified because it is the result of the compression of interests that only politics should be able to read and translate into law. Now that I deal with foreign criminality, I can add that also in this field, for example, the collaboration of some subjects belonging to the Nigerian secret cult (the so-called Nigerian mafia), has allowed to understand and to discover, leading to numerous arrests, a phenomenon that otherwise would be difficult to contrast, if not impossible, without an insider who would unveil (as Buscetta did) linguistic and operative codes. Therefore, my hope is that the norm remains and does not undergo modifications that are too negative with respect to the rewards because it would remove the advantage of collaboration and would nullify the scope of the law itself.

Matteo Messina Denaro, the last of the great fugitives

Today, Matteo Messina Denaro, the last of the great fugitives, is still at large. Why is it so difficult to capture him from those who have worked in the field? Why is it not possible to definitively tighten the circle around this enigmatic figure?  

Once upon a time, I would have said I was certain of his capture. Today I am less sure, and I would not be surprised if one day we would find him like his father, Don Ciccio, elegantly dressed and placed on the bare ground, dead as a fugitive. But these are considerations as a citizen, a connoisseur of the territory and the difficult work behind the capture of a fugitive. If you do not unhinge that omertoso wall of protection that allows him to live free in the shadows, it will be very difficult to arrest him. The more the memory of his massacres recedes, the more the intervention of the State and its institutions in the involved territories is lacking, the more people will cheer for him, and the less the probability of his capture in life will be.

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