Giovanni Falcone: a citizen and a hero


Paolo Borsellino and Giovanni Falcone, the famous anti-mafia judges killed in 1992.

Note: This article was first published on May 23rd, 2012, on the French blog, on the day of the 20th anniversary of Judge Giovanni Falcone’s assassination.

On May 23rd, we record a discrete hero, Judge Giovanni Falcone, killed 20 years ago in Capaci (Sicily) in one of the most violent attacks ever perpetrated by Cosa Nostra.

Judge Falcone was one of the leaders of the anti-mafia pool ofPalermo, in the 1980s, and was the instigator of the “maxi-trial” which saw 360 mafia members sentenced to prison in 1987. 

With his colleague and friend, Paolo Borsellino, also assassinated a few weeks later, he spent his life to serve his fellow citizen, despite the permanent danger posed by the mafia and despite the obstacles put by the State and several fellow magistrates. While Cosa Nostra was unified under the leadership of the Corleone, the anti-mafia front was divided because of jealousies, which weakened Falcone and eventually cost him his life.

Nevertheless, today, 20 years later, his heritage remains, as “the men pass away, but their ideas remain […] and walk on other men’s legs” (a sentence attributed to JFK and that Falcone liked very much).

A few days before this 20th anniversary, sad news came on Saturday fromBrindisi (Puglia), where a bombing in front of a school caused the death of a young student, Melissa Bassi, and injured severely several others.

Whether it is an act of the mafia, of the anarchists or of an isolated fool, we can do nothing but be outraged and condemn this coward and barbaric murder of an innocent, what’s more, in front of a school, a place representing the State and where children and teenagers are prepared to their future life of citizen.

This attack has triggered a wave of solidarity and unity throughItaly, and even over the country’s borders. For example, Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, speaking on behalf of his institution, expressed contempt for the perpetrators and sympathy for the victims and their families, friends and acquaintances.

Two thoughts cross my mind, thinking of these tragedies.

The first one is that the fight against violence and illegality, from uncivil acts till organized crime and terrorism, is not confined, for example, to the South of Italy. It is a matter that all European States should address.

In fact, States are aware of this. Indeed, after creating the area of freedom, security and justice (known as “Schengen area”), they also developed cooperation on several topics: police (Europol), justice (Eurojust) and border control (Frontex). Asylum and immigration policies became also more tightly coordinated.

This phenomenon, this fight against violence and illegality, also concerns each of us. It is by remaining loyal to our values, by refusing compromises on Freedom and Justice, that we bring forward the cause defended by Judge Falcone.

Judges Falcone and Borsellino said that he who is silent and bows his head dies every time he does so. He, who is not afraid, speaks aloud and walks with his head held high dies only once.

And as Pope Benedict XVI said it on Monday, “the evil wants to dominate the world, but we are on the winning team”. This is true, provided that we behave as members of this team.

My second thought is related to our reaction in front of the crisis, which also creates divisions and sufferings. Indeed, we observe the rise of social tensions, extremism and euroscepticism.

To face these difficulties, our reaction should be inspired by the Italian one after the bombing inBrindisi: solidarity and unity. It is only together that we can affirm: “Yes we can!”

Furthermore, just as Judge Falcone did not divert from his guiding line and did not lose sight of his objectives and values, we too, Europeans, should reaffirm our commitment to the unity of our continent, promote the success of the European integration and claim that, to tackle the crisis, it is necessary to strengthen our (budgetary, social, etc.) cooperation. It will be our way out of the crisis.

Besides, the European integration is not only a matter of Treaties and institutions; it also lives thanks the initiatives of the citizen. So, each of us has a major role to play. To quote one more time Judge Falcone: “In order to have a society that feels well and moves forward toward progress, exalting the values of family, good and friendship, in order to have it thrive without contrasts between its members, with a view to open serenely the way toward a better future, it is enough that everyone does his duty”.

The tree of Falcone, in Palermo, Sicily. (Flickr)

The tree covered with messages, in the picture above, is known as the “tree of Falcone”.

Just like the tree that develops big and small branches starting from one trunk, let us hope that a “trunk” of common values that are lived, affirmed and defended each day, gives birth to one community made up of a multitude of European citizen.

Pierre-Antoine KLETHI

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