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Italians were outraged on Tuesday after a notorious Mafia boss was released from prison, where he served 25 years for a series of serious crimes, including the assassination of a famous prosecutor and the dissolution of the body of a boy in acid.
Giovanni Brusca, 64, was released Monday from Rebibbia prison in Rome after serving a 25-year sentence, during which he became a state witness. He will now serve four years of probation.
“Brusca freed, the most cruel boss,” writes the daily La Repubblica.
But while some politicians and relatives of her victims denounced her release, others defended her given her cooperation with the authorities.
Brusca was a key figure in Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian mafia group.
In 1992, he detonated the bomb that killed Giovanni Falcone, the legendary Italian prosecutor who dedicated his career to overthrowing the Mafia.
Falcone’s wife and three bodyguards were also killed in the attack after their car drove down a section of highway outside Palermo filled with 400 kilograms (882 pounds) of explosives, detonated by Brusca nearby.
The wife of one of the slain bodyguards, Tina Montinaro, told Repubblica that she was “outraged” by 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 newspaper that she was devastated by the news. But she added: “It is the law, a law moreover wanted by my brother and which must be respected.”
– Dissolved in acid –
Brusca, nicknamed “the Pig”, was one of Cosa Nostra’s most loyal operators, Salvatore “Toto” Riina.
Arrested in 1996, he decided to cooperate with the authorities, confessing to hundreds of murders, Italian media reported.
One of the most horrific was the murder of 12-year-old Giuseppe Di Matteo, the son of a mafia renegade, who was kidnapped in 1993 in retaliation for his father’s collaboration with the authorities.
After being held in a house for over two years in squalid conditions, the boy was strangled and his body thrown in acid in what police called “one of the most heinous crimes in history. de la Cosa Nostra “.
“The law cannot be the same for these people,” the father of boy Santino told Corriere della Sera newspaper. “Brusca doesn’t deserve anything.”
“These people are not human,” he added, recalling how Brusca “along with my son, also killed a 23-year-old pregnant woman” who had nothing to do with the Mafia, “after torturing her boy friend”.
He hoped never to meet him on the street, he added. “I don’t know what could happen.”
Di Matteo himself still lives in a secret location for fear of mafia reprisals.
There were also protests on both sides of the Italian political divide.
The leader of the center-left Democratic Party, Enrico Letta, called the news “a punch in the stomach that leaves you speechless”.
Far-right leader Matteo Salvini called Brusca a “wild beast” who “cannot get out of prison”.
– “No scandal” –
But Pietro Grasso, a leftist politician and former Senate speaker who was once on the killer’s victim list, saw “no scandal”.
Grasso was a magistrate and chief anti-mafia prosecutor in Italy before entering politics in 2013.
He said he had little sympathy for Brusca, especially since the assassin and his collaborators had plotted to kill him and kidnap his son.
But he insisted it was right to offer jail time cuts to gangsters who turn into state informants.
“The indignation of many politicians who understand very little about the penal code and the fight against the Mafia scares me,” he wrote on Facebook.
“We need steep reductions in prison sentences for those who aid the state, and the prospect of life in prison, without reduction, for those who do not cooperate,” said Grasso.
© 2021 AFP