Paolo Borsellino

Paolo Borsellino (January 19, 1940 - July 19, 1992) was an Italian anti-Mafia magistrate. He was killed by a Mafia car bomb in Palermo, 57 days after his friend and fellow Antimafia magistrateGiovanni Falcone was assassinated. He is considered to be one of the most important magistrates killed by the Sicilian Mafia and he is remembered as one of the main symbols of the battle of the State against the Mafia. Both Borsellino and Falcone were named as heroes of the last 60 years in the November 13, 2006, issue of Time Magazine.

Early life

Borsellino was born in a middle-class Palermo neighborhood, Kalsa, a neighborhood of central Palermo which suffered extensive destruction by aerial attacks during the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943. His father was a pharmacist and his mother ran a pharmacy in the Via della Vitriera, next to the house were Paolo was born. As boys Borsellino and Paolo BorsellinoFalcone, who was born in the same neighbourhood, played soccer together on the Piazza Mangione. The Mafia was present in the area but quiescent. Both had classmates who ended up as mafiosi. The house were he was born was declared unsafe and the family was forced to move out in 1956. The pharmacy remained, while the neighbourhood around it crumbled.

Borsellino and Falcone met again at Palermo University. While Borsellino tended towards the right and became a member of the Fronte Universitario d'Azione Nazionale (FUAN), a right-wing university organization affiliated with the neo-fascist Movimento Sociale Italiano, Falcone drifted away from his parents middle-class conservative Catholicism towards Communism. Both never joined a political party, however, and although the ideologies of those political movements were diametrically opposed, they paradoxically shared a history of opposing the Mafia. Their different political leanings did not thwart their friendship. Both decided to join the magistrature.

Borsellino obtained a degree in law at the University of Palermo, with honours, in 1962. After his father's death, he passed the judiciary exam in 1963. During those years, he worked in many cities in Sicily (Enna in 1965, Mazara del Vallo in 1967, Monreale in 1969). After he married in 1968, he transferred to his native Palermo in 1975 together with Rocco Chinnici, where he then started his unfinished work to fight and defeat the growing Sicilian Mafia.

His accomplishments included the arrest of six organization members in 1980; in the same year, one of his workmates, the Carabinieri captain Emanuele Basile, was murdered by the Mafia. Because of that event, he was assigned police protection.

Antimafia Pool

During those years, working together with magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Rocco Chinnici, Borsellino continued his research about the Mafia and its links to political and economical powers in Sicily and Italy. He became part of Palermo's Antimafia Pool, created by Chinnici. The Antimafia pool was a group of investigating magistrates who closely worked together sharing information to diffuse responsibility and to prevent one person from becoming the sole institutional memory and solitary target. The group consisted of Falcone, Borsellino, Giuseppe Di Lello and Leonardo Guarnotta.

In 1983, Rocco Chinnici was killed by a bomb in his car. His place in the Antimafia Pool was taken by Antonino Caponnetto. The group pooled together several investigations into the Mafia, which would result in the Maxi Trial against the Mafia starting in February 1986 and which lasted until December 1987. A total of 475 mafiosi were indicted for a multitude of crimes relating to Mafia activities. Most were convicted and, to the surprise of many, the convictions were upheld several years later in January 1992, after the final stage of appeal. The importance of the trial was that the existence of Cosa Nostra was finally judicially confirmed.

In 1986, Borsellino became head of the Public Prosecution Office of Marsala, continuing his personal campaign against the Mafia bosses, in the most populated city of the province of Trapani. His links with Giovanni Falcone, who remained in Palermo, allowed him to cover the entire Western Sicily for investigations. In 1987, after Caponnetto resigned due to illness, Borsellino was protagonist of a great protest about the unsuccessful nomination of his friend Giovanni Falcone as head of the Antimafia Pool.


On July 19, 1992, Borsellino was killed by a car bomb in Via D'Amelio, near his mother's house in Palermo, less than two months after the death of his good friend Falcone. The bomb attack also claimed the lives of five policemen: Agostino Catalano, Walter Cosina, Emanuela Loi, Vincenzo Li Muli, Claudio Traina.


(Source: Wikepedia)



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