Sunday the 19th of July 1992, a hot summer afternoon, people are thinking about their holidays, going to the beach, relaxing, spending time with friends and family, when suddenly our tranquillity is shattered: a car bomb explodes in Via D’Amelio in Palermo killing judge Paolo Borsellino and the five members of his police escort, Agostino Catalano, Eddie Walter Cosina, Vincenzo Li Muli, Emanuela Loi, ClaudioTraina. The magistrate had just had lunch with his mother, and was leaving her apartment when the bomb was detonated by remote control, killing Mafia’s most dangerous enemy just 57 days after La Strage di Capaci, which had killed judge Giovanni Falcone, his wife Francesca Morvillo and his police escort.
Paolo Borsellino was born in Palermo in 1940 and grew up in the same neighbourhood as Giovanni Falcone. They went to school and played together, and both decided to become magistrates, unlike some of their school friends who went on to become mafiosi. Borsellino graduated in 1962 and in 1963 became the youngest procuratore (attorney) of Sicily. In the Eighties he joined his long time friend Falcone in the so called pool anti-mafia. Borsellino and Falcone’s strength was the fact that they were both Sicilians, and they had grown up in Palermo alongside children who later became members of Cosa Nostra: they understood the mentality of the mafiosi, they understood their language and code of honour. Their hard work was paid back with il maxi-processo (the maxi-trial) in which 474 people stood accused of Mafia crimes.
Over the past few days, whilst I was reading and researching about Paolo Borsellino, I came across an interview with Borsellino recorded not long after judge Falcone’s death, just a few days in fact before his own death. I find it extremely moving to listen to Borsellino’s words, and to hear him express his firm belief in his duty towards his Country, despite his sadness and pain for the loss of a dear fried and colleague. At the same time, it’s shocking to hear his acceptance of his tragic fate. Here is my transcription of the last minute and twenty seconds of this interview: Borsellino’s Interview (click on the link to watch the video)
“Io accetto laaa… l’ho sempre accettato il … più che il rischio, la condizione, quali sono le conseguenze del lavoro che faccio, del luogo dove lo faccio, e vorrei dire anche di come lo faccio. Eh, lo accetto perché ho scelto ad un certo punto della mia vita di farlo e potrei dire che sapevo fin dall’inizio che dovevo correre questi pericoli. Il … La sensazione di essere un sopravvissuto e di trovarmi, come viene ritenuto, in estremo pericolo, è una sensazione che non si disgiunge dal fatto che io credo ancora profondamente nel lavoro che faccio, so che è necessario che lo faccia, so che è necessario che lo facciano tanti altri assieme a me, e so anche che tutti noi abbiamo il dovere morale di continuarlo a fare senza lasciarci condizionare eh … dalla sensazione che, o financo vorrei dire dalla certezza, che tutto questo può costarci caro”.
“I accept the … I’ve always accepted the … more than the risk, the situation, what the consequences are of my job, of the place where I do it, and I would even say of how I do it. Eh, I accept it because at a certain point in my life I chose to do it and I could say that I knew since the beginning that I had to take these risks. The … the feeling of being a survivor and of finding myself, as it’s believed, in extreme danger, it’s a feeling that cannot be separated from the fact that I still deeply believe in my job, that I know that it’s necessary for me to do it, that I know that it’s necessary for many more people do it alongside me, and I also know that we all have the moral duty to carry on doing it without letting ourselves be influenced eh … by the feeling that, or even I would like to say the certainty, that all of this might cost us dearly”.