History's HEROES? Dated 1939 - 1992

Giovanni Falcone

Created by

M D'Agostino


Palermo, Sicily (IT)
place of birth - place of death



    • Brave / Courageous
    • Altruistic (puts other first e.g. risks or gives life for others)
    • Clever
    • Visionary (has far reaching ideas)
    • Good or moral (strong beliefs or principles)
    • Has integrity (stands up for what they believe and act accordingly)
    • Perseverant / Tenacious (keeps going despite challenges)
    • Decisive
    • Inspiring / Charismatic
    • Determined
    • Wise
    • Honest

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    "Giovanni Falcone" Special


    "He who is silent and bows his head dies every time he does so. He who speaks aloud and walks with his head held high dies only once." - Giovanni Falcone

    "The important thing is not establishing if you are afraid or not but it's to be able to live with your own fear without being influenced by it. Otherwise it's not courage anymore, but recklessness." - Giovanni Falcone

    The magistrate who sacrificed his life fighting against Mafia.

    Gold medal for civil valor "Magistrate firmly committed to the fight against organized crime, aware of the risks he was facing as a component of the 'anti-mafia pool', devoted all his energy to repel the challenge from the increasing threat launched by the mafias to the democratic state. Then continued this work attentive and determined as the Director of Criminal Affairs of the Ministry of Justice but was brutally murdered in a cowardly ambush, with brutal ferocity, sacrificing their lives, lived in the service of institutions." - Palermo, 5 August 1992

    Giovanni Falcone (18 May 1939 - 23 May 1992) was a Sicilian/Italian prosecuting magistrate born in Palermo, Sicily. From his office in the Palace of Justice in Palermo, he spent most of his professional life trying to overthrow the power of the Mafia in Sicily. After a long and distinguished career, culminating in the famous Maxi Trial, he was killed by the Mafia in May 1992, on the motorway near the town of Capaci.

    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 chemical laboratory, and Luisa Bentivegna. After a classical education, Giovanni studied law after a brief period of study at Livorno's naval academy. He graduated 1961, and began to practice law before being appointed a judge in 1964.

    Falcone eventually move to penal law after serving as a district magistrate. 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 6 August 1980, on the orders of Inzerillo. Falcone was plagued by a chronic lack of resources in his capacity as magistrate. In May 1982, the Italian government sent Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa, a general of the Italian carabinieri, to Sicily with orders to crush the Mafia. However, not long after arriving, on 3 September 1982, the General was gunned down in the city centre, his young wife by his side.

    Sicilians rose up in outrage. Outside the church, the politicians who attended were jeered and spat on, and blamed by Sicilians for tolerating the Mafia for so long. In response, the Italian government finally offered Falcone the backing he needed. Falcone's responsibilities as a magistrate put tremendous strain on his personal life.

    When he married his fiancee, Francesca Morvillo, Falcone asked Mayor Leoluca Orlando himself to conduct the ceremony. It was held in total secrecy late on a Saturday evening to the astonishment of Orlando's secretary. Neither family members nor friends were present, no photos were taken.

    Falcone introduced an innovative investigative technique, following "the money trail", to build his case. Subsequently, he became part of Palermo's Anti-Mafia Pool, created by Judge Rocco Chinnici. This was a group of investigating magistrates who closely worked together sharing information. Other than Falcone, the group included Paolo Borsellino, Giuseppe Di Lello and Leonardo Guarnotta.

    The Antimafia pool laid the groundwork for the Maxi Trial against the Sicilian Mafia at the preliminary investigative phase. After Chinniciâ's murder in July 1983, his successor Antonino Caponnetto headed the pool. Falcone led the prosecution for the trial, which began 10 February 1986, and ended on 16 December 1987. Of the 474 Mafiosi members originally charged, 360 were convicted of serious crimes, including 119 in their absence. One of the most important factors in the trial was the testimony of Tommaso Buscetta, one of the first ever Sicilian Mafiosi to become an informant (pentito). He was on the witness stand for an entire week.It was Falcone to whom Buscetta preferred to speak to when revealing the secrets of the Mafia, and Buscetta later claimed that whilst other magistrates and detectives patronized him, Falcone treated him with respect.

    During 1988 Falcone collaborated with Rudolph Giuliani, at the time U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, in operations against the Gambino and Inzerillo families.

    After Falcone's successes in the Maxi Trial, the seriousness of Tommaso Buscetta's warnings that the Mafia would stop at nothing to end the magistrate's life, became clear. Despite the care he took with his safety, in June 1989 as he relaxed outside his beach house, a security guard noticed an abandoned sports bag at the water's edge. It contained 58 sticks of plastic explosives, primed to explode if picked up. The bomb did not go off.

    After the incident, he was heard to remark to Liliana Ferraro, a long-term colleague and friend: "My life is mapped out: it is my destiny to take a bullet by the Mafia some day. The only thing I don't know is when."

    On 23 May 1992 on the orders of Salvatore "Toto" Riina, a half-ton bomb was placed under the motorway between Palermo International Airport and the city of Palermo. Riina's men hid in a building above the road and remotely detonated the device. Giovanni Falcone, his wife Francesca Morvillo and body guards Rocco Dicillo, Antonio Montinaro and Vito Schifani were killed in the blast. The explosion was so powerful that it registered on local earthquake monitors.

    Thousands gathered at the Basilica of San Domenico for their funeral. The funeral was broadcast live on national TV and all regular television programs were suspended. Parliament declared a day of mourning.

    The murder was organized by Salvatore Riina as revenge for Falcone's conviction of dozens of mobsters in the Maxi-Trials. Riina reportedly threw a party, toasting Falcone's death with champagne. In the major crackdown against the Mafia following Falcone and Borsellino's deaths, Riina was arrested and is now serving a life sentence for sanctioning the murders of both magistrates as well as many other crimes.

    Another Mafioso convicted of the murder of Falcone is Giovanni Brusca, also known as 'lo scannacristiani' (the people slaughterer). He was one of Riina's associates who admitted to being the one who actually detonated the explosives.

    Palermo International Airport is now also known by the name Falcone-Borsellino Airport in honor of Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. A memorial by local sculptor Tommaso Geraci can be found there. Falcone was posthumously awarded the Train Foundation's Civil Courage Prize, which recognizes "extraordinary heroes of conscience".

    Life in Giovanni Falcone's world

    The ideas remain, men pass by. Their moral tensions remain and will continue to walk on the legs of other men. The brave die once, the coward hundred times a day.

    Was Giovanni Falcone a Hero?

    • He gave his life to free millions of people minds.
    • He continued to work hard even when mafia let him know that he would have been killed.
    • He talked to young students across Italy about mafia, trying to teach them a "civil and civic education"

    Things you might not know about Giovanni Falcone

    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. 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 valore civile" (Gold medal for civil valor) in 1992.

    They were also named as heroes of the last 60 years in the 13 November 2006, issue of Time Magazine.

    The National Geographic documentary entitled "Inside The Mafia" (June 2005) describes, among other things, Falcone's life-long struggle against organised crime: "From his office in the Palace of Justice in Paloma, Falcone and a handful of colleagues wage a lonely and dangerous war against the mafia."

    The last years of Falcone's life, the Maxi Trial and his assassination are documented in the 1998 HBO movie Excellent Cadavers. In this film he is portrayed by Italian-American actor Chazz Palminteri. The UK release of the film was entitled Falcone. It was based on the book Excellent Cadavers by Alexander Stille. The words of the title are a term referring to assassinations of high-ranking people such as politicians and judges.

    In 2006 a two-episode TV movie was broadcast by Italian state television RAI, dedicated to the magistrate, starring Massimo Dapporto as Falcone and Elena Sofia Ricci as his wife Francesca Morvillo. It covers Falcone's life from the start of his mafia investigations in 1980, up to the assassination.

    In The Best of Youth  (2003) part of the film happens against the backdrop of Falcone's death.

    In Capo dei Capi, a recent TV film split into six parts, the movie reflects most of Giovanni Falcone's life as well as his death. Although Falcone was not one of the main characters, he played a very important role in the film, as his death sparked the first verbal revolts towards various politicians and his efforts against the mafia led to the ultimate arrest of mafia boss Toto Riina.

    The "Giovanni and Francesca Falcone Foundation" was established in Palermo December 10, 1992 by the will of the family of Giovanni Falcone and Laura Francesca Morvillo, victims of the "Capaci Massacre". Since 1996 the Foundation has received recognition by the ONU consultative status as a Non Governmental Organization ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council of the United Nations). This means that the Falcone Foundation performs advisory functions in matters falling within the competence of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in the fields of international economics, social issues, cultural, educational, health, scientific, technological and human rights issues. The Foundation is managed by: General Council: composed of 11 to 50 members (currently 32).

    The Falcone Foundation was established with the main aim of promoting cultural activities, study and research that encourage the development of anti-mafia culture in society and young people in particular, its purpose is to promote the improvement of professionalism of the equipment involved in the investigation and prosecution action to prevent and fight against organized crime.

    The ultimate goal of the Foundation is a coalition of all the positive energy that are available anywhere in the world to eradicate the "mafia culture" from society. The social and cultural commitment of the Foundation is thus not only related to study the phenomenon of organized crime mafia, but it is broader. Strong attention is paid to the fact of poor education for young people, in an attempt to make a real change through continuing education to social and cultural initiatives involving young people.

    The purpose of the Foundation is to foster integration and cooperation between the international and European legal systems for more effective coordination of all the states and the agencies appointed to the prevention and suppression of organized crime.


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