Mafias - History - Maxi Trial and War Against The Government

Maxi Trial and War Against The Government

In the early 1980s, the magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino began a campaign against Cosa Nostra. Their big break came with the arrest of Tommaso Buscetta, a mafioso who chose to turn informant in exchange for protection from the Corleonesi, who had already murdered many of his friends and relatives. Other mafiosi followed his example. Falcone and Borsellino compiled their testimonies and organized the Maxi Trial, which lasted from February 1986 to December 1987. It was held in a fortified courthouse specially built for the occasion. 474 mafiosi were put on trial, of whom 342 were convicted. In January 1992 the Italian Supreme Court confirmed these convictions.

The Mafia retaliated violently. In 1988, they murdered a Palermo judge and his son; three years later a prosecutor and an anti-mafia businessman were also murdered. Salvatore Lima, a close political ally of the Mafia, was murdered for failing to reverse the convictions as promised. Falcone and Borsellino were killed by bombs in 1992. This led to a public outcry and a massive government crackdown, resulting in the arrest of Salvatore Riina in January 1993. More and more defectors emerged. Many would pay a high price for their cooperation, usually through the murder of relatives. For example, Francesco Marino Mannoia's mother, aunt and sister were murdered.

After Riina's arrest, the Mafia began a campaign of terrorism on the Italian mainland. Tourist spots such as the Via dei Georgofili in Florence, Via Palestro in Milan, and the Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano and Via San Teodoro in Rome were attacked, leaving 10 dead and 93 injured and causing severe damage to cultural heritage such as the Uffizi Gallery. When the Catholic Church openly condemned the Mafia, two churches were bombed and an anti-Mafia priest shot dead in Rome.

After Riina's capture, leadership of the Mafia was briefly held by Leoluca Bagarella, then passed to Bernardo Provenzano when the former was himself captured in 1995. Provenzano halted the campaign of violence and replaced it with a campaign of quietness known as pax mafiosi.

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