Statue of slain anti-mafia prosecutor decapitated in Palermo

Unknown vandals in the Sicilian capital Palermo broke the head off a statue of murdered anti-mafia prosecutor Giovanni Falcone on Monday.

Statue of slain anti-mafia prosecutor decapitated in Palermo
Anti-mafia prosecutor Giovanni Falcone. Photo: Gerard Foulet/AFP

The statue's head was then rammed against the wall of the Falcone-Borsellino, which it stood outside, causing further damage to the nose and eye area.

“The damage and contempt towards the statue dedicated to Giovanni Falcone are very serious acts; even more so because they were also aimed at damaging a school which has for years carried out important work of awareness and social education,” said Palermo mayor Leoluca Orlando.

Prosecutor Falcone was killed in 1992 after a mafia hit-man placed a bomb under his car on a highway near the town of Capaci. The blast also killed the judge's wife and three members of his security detail.

Falcone, who was 53 when he died, spent most of his life trying to fight the mafia, bringing about the so-called ‘maxi trial' in 1986-1987, which led to the conviction of 342 mafiosi.

His killing was ordered by the mafia godfather, Toto Riina, who is serving multiple life sentences in prison.

The people who carried out the attack were arrested shortly after the crime, but recent years have seen further arrests in connection with Falcone's murder, with eight people – all of them already in prison for other crimes – charged in 2013.

READ MORE: How the murder of Giovanni Falcone marked a turning point for Sicily

An image of the statue's damaged head. Photo: Comune di Palermo

Just hours after the initial act of vandalism, Palermo authorities reported that a poster with a picture of Falcone had been burned outside another school in the regional capital.

Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni condemned the incident on Monday afternoon, saying: “Insulting the memory of Falcone is a weak show of cowardice.”


‘Serious design flaw’: Ex-official says risk of Genoa bridge collapse was known

A former director of the group with ultimate responsibility for Italy's Genoa bridge has said it knew of the dangers eight years before the highway collapsed in 2018, killing 43 people.

‘Serious design flaw’: Ex-official says risk of Genoa bridge collapse was known

In 2010 Gianni Mion was managing director of the Benetton family’s holding group, Edizione, which owned Autostrade per l’Italia (Aspi), the company paid by the state to manage the Morandi bridge.

“In a meeting between managers and executives, doubts arose about whether the Morandi bridge could remain standing, due to a serious design flaw,” Mion told a court in Genoa on Monday at a trial hearing.

READ ALSO: Genoa bridge collapse: 59 people to stand trial over disaster as operator settles

“I asked if there was a third party that certified the stability of the viaduct. They told me that we self-certified it. That answer terrified me,” he said, according to Italian news agency reports.

“Nobody thought, though, that it would collapse and we were reassured on that point. I didn’t say anything but I was worried. I didn’t do anything and that’s my big regret,” Mion was quoted as saying.

Nearly 60 defendants went on trial in Genoa in July last year, accused of manslaughter and undermining transport safety over the collapse of the bridge in the northwest Italian city.

The Morandi bridge gave way in torrential rain on August 14, 2018, sending dozens of vehicles and their passengers tumbling into the abyss.

Egle Possetti, who heads a committee of victims’ relatives, said it was “unacceptable” for someone of Mion’s position to have remained silent.

Egle Possetti (C), at the first hearing of the Morandi bridge collapse trial on 7 July, 2022.

Egle Possetti (C), at the first hearing of the Morandi bridge collapse trial on 7 July, 2022. Photo by Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP.

Those on trial include the general manager of Autostrade at the time, Giovanni Castellucci, and Antonino Galata, the former head of Spea, the engineering company in charge of maintenance.

Roberto Tomasi, who took over as general manager of Autostrade in 2019, told the court on Monday that “the level of network degradation was substantially worse than Spea’s inspections stated”.

READ ALSO: ‘The sadness is unending’: Italian families’ pain still raw ahead of Genoa bridge trial

He said Spea was not considered to be “reliable” and “the behaviour of some of its employees was unacceptable”.

Even though their former directors are on trial, Autostrade and Spea will escape the courts, thanks to an out-of-court settlement with the public prosecutor’s office, which provides for a payment of 29 million euros ($30 million) to the state.