Giovanni Falcone

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Giovanni Falcone (May 18, 1939, Palermo – May 23, 1992) was an Italian prosecuting magistrate born in Palermo. From his office in the Palace of Justice in Palermo, he spent most of his professional life trying to break the Mafia's stranglehold on Sicily. After a long and distinguished career, culminating in the famous Maxi Trial, he met his demise at the hands of the Mafia in May 1992, on the motorway near the town of Capaci.[1]

His life parallels that of his closest friend Paolo Borsellino. Both men spent their early years in the same poor neighbourhood in Palermo. And though many of their childhood friends grew up to be Mafia figures, both men fought on the other side of the war as prosecuting magistrates. Tragically, they were both assassinated with the use of car bombs within months of each other. In recognition of their tireless effort and sacrifice during the anti-mafia trials, they were both awarded the Italian "Medaglia d'oro al valor civile" (Gold medal for civil valor) in 1992. They were also named as heroes of the last 60 years in the November 13, 2006, issue of Time Magazine.[2]



Giovanni Falcone spent part of his youth in the Magione district in his native city Palermo, which suffered extensive destruction by aerial attacks during the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943. He was the son of Arturo Falcone, director of a provincial chemical laboratory, and Luisa Bentivegna. After a classical education, Giovanni studied law following a brief period of study at Livorno's naval academy. Graduating in 1961, he began to practice law before being appointed a judge in 1964. Falcone eventually gravitated toward penal law after serving as a district magistrate.[3]

Shortly after the murder of Judge Cesare Terranova, Falcone started to work for the investigative branch of the Prosecution Office (Ufficio istruzione) in Palermo. In May 1980, the chief of the office Rocco Chinnici appointed Falcone to investigate a major heroin-trafficking network headed by Rosario Spatola and Salvatore Inzerillo. From Sicily heroin was moved to the Gambino crime family in New York, who were related to the Inzerillos. The prosecuting Judge Gaetano Costa, who had signed the 53 arrest warrants against the heroin-trafficking network of the Spatola-Inzerillo-Gambino clan in May 1980, was murdered on August 6, 1980, on the orders of Inzerillo.

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