Italians were outraged Tuesday at the release from prison of a ruthless mafia boss who assassinated Italy’s most famous prosecutor and dissolved a boy’s body in acid, among other crimes.
Giovanni Brusca, 64, was released Monday from Rome’s Rebibbia prison after serving a 25-year sentence, during which he became a state’s witness.
He will now serve four years of probation.
“Brusca freed — the cruelest boss,” wrote La Repubblica daily.
Brusca was a key figure within the Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian mafia group.
He detonated the bomb that killed Giovanni Falcone, Italy’s legendary prosecuting magistrate who dedicated his career to overthrowing the mafia, in 1992.
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Falcone’s wife and three bodyguards were also killed in the attack after their car drove over a section of highway outside Palermo packed with 400 kilos (882 pounds) of explosives, detonated by Brusca nearby.
The wife of one of the bodyguards killed, Tina Montinaro, told Repubblica she was “indignant” at Brusca’s release.
“The state is against us — after 29 years we still don’t know the truth about the massacre and Giovanni Brusca, the man who destroyed my family, is free,” Montinaro said.
Falcone’s sister, Maria, told the paper she was distressed by the news but “it’s the law, a law moreover wanted by my brother and that should be respected.”
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Dead body soaked in acid
Brusca — who went by the nickname ‘the Pig’ and who was arrested in 1996 — was one of the most loyal operators of the head of Cosa Nostra, Salvatore “Toto” Riina, and as a collaborator admitted to carrying out hundreds of murders, Italian news media reported.
One of the most grisly was the killing of 12-year-old Giuseppe Di Matteo, the son of a mafia turncoat, who was kidnapped in 1993 in retaliation for his father collaborating with authorities.
After being held in a house for over two years in squalid conditions, the boy was strangled and his body thrown into acid in what police have called “one of the most heinous crimes in the history of the Cosa Nostra”.
Protest about Brusca’s release also came from both sides of Italy’s political divide. The leader of the centre-left Democratic Party, Enrico Letta, called it a “punch in the stomach that leaves one speechless,” while far-right leader Matteo Salvini called Brusca a “wild beast” who “cannot get out of prison.”
Meanwhile, Claudio Fava, the president of Sicily’s anti-mafia commission, doubted the value of Brusca’s information provided to authorities about the 1992 attack on Falcone.
“Certainly Brusca could have said much more than he did, he could have contributed much more to get to the truth of that period,” said Fava.
“Certainly now he won’t do it anymore.”