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Giovanni Falcone Remembered at U.S. Supreme Court
Senior officials on both sides of the Atlantic praise his legacy

The legacy and contributions of Italian Magistrate Giovanni Falcone, who built bridges across the Atlantic in his quest to destroy the Mafia, were recalled today at a seminar held at the U.S. Supreme Court.   Judge Falcone was killed on May 23, 1992, together with his wife and three of his bodyguards, by a bomb that blew up a section of a highway near Palermo's airport just as his car was passing. He was 53 years old.  His assassination and that of his colleague Paolo Borsellino two months later, became a turning point in Italy’s fight against the mafia.

 Giovanni FalconeJudge Arthur J. Gajarsa of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit organized the event in collaboration with the Embassy of Italy.  Judge Gajarsa recalled what Falcone had told him once that “a country ruled by law will last forever, a country ruled by men will crumble.” Gajarsa who was then an attorney in private practice, said that those words took on a special meaning when he became a judge.

Judge Giannicola Sinisi, the Justice Attache at the Embassy of Italy, introduced the event’s speakers which included aong others three Supreme Court Justices, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and the Deputy Attorney General  of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Chief Justice John Roberts, who welcomed the guests, said that it was “our privilege to honor today here in our Court.”  Justice Samuel Alito spoke about the negative image that the mafia has given Italian Americans and that it was “vitally important for Americans to know about Giovanni Falcone.”  “Italy and the U.S. are a better place because of his contributions.”  Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, noted that Falcone’s vision was alive and well at her Department.  David Ogden, the Deputy Attorney General for the U.S. Department of Justice, said that “his life had made him a hero not his death.”  The new Italian Ambassador to Washington Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata praised the continued collaboration between Italy and the United States in the investigation of international organized crime. Judge Falcone, he said, "was a true representative of a modern judiciary, effective in preventing and combating the scourge of organized crime."

William Sessions, a former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, recalled the close cooperation between the FBI and law enforcement in Italy during the time of Falcone’s investigation and prosecution of the biggest mafia trial.  John Pistole, the current Deputy Director of the FBI, recalled his involvement in the investigation following Falcone’s assassination and the excellent cooperation which developed between the FBI and the Italian National Police.

Also speaking at the seminar were Vincenzo Scotti, Italy’s Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Claudio Martelli, who was the Minister of Justice when Falcone was transferred from Palermo to Rome to work on strategies to combat the mafia, including the establishing of a chief anti-mafia prosecutor.  

Justice Antonin Scalia, who concluded the program, recalled once meeting Falcone and his wife for dinner at a restaurant in Palermo.  He said that Falcone “had stepped forward to do what good men had to do.”  “All good causes have their martyrs,” said Scalia, “Falcone became a martyr to the cause of justice. Glory and honor to his name.”

Francesco Isgro |Ciao America | October 29, 2009

Related Links:

Remarks by Ambassador Giulio Terzi
Fondazione Giovanni Falcone



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