Anti-Mafia Judge is killed by the Sicilian Mafia (May 23, 1992) - History Key

Anti-Mafia Judge is killed by the Sicilian Mafia (May 23, 1992)

Giovanni Falcone was one of the most important Italian judges who fought against the Italian Mafia. He spent most of his professional life trying to annihilate the Sicilian Mafia. Because Falcone disturbed the Mafia’s waters, he was murdered with his wife Francesca Morvillo by the Corleonesi clan.

Giovanni Falcone, 1987
Giovanni Falcone, 1987 © Image Source: fiore G00493

Give and Receive Respect

Giovanni Falcone was an important organizer of the Maxi Trial, a criminal trial against the Sicilian Mafia. The trial began on February 1986 with more than 474 mobsters being accused. However it ended with 360 criminal charges on December 1987.

Tommaso Buscetta
Tommaso Buscetta © Image Source: Getty Images

One of the most disturbing facts was the testimony of Tommaso Buscetta, the first Sicilian mobster to become an informant.

Buscetta preferred to talk with Falcone when he denounced the secrets of the Mafia. Respect was one of the most important aspects in Mafia. For every mobster, being respected and offering respect was the common way of doing business. Therefore, Falcone treated Buscetta with respect all the time when they collaborated.


“Never show anger at slight, tell nothing. Earn Respect from everyone by deeds, not words. Respect the members of your Blood Family. (Mario Puzo – The Last Don)

Giovanni Falcone ( 2nd from the left) flanked by Bodyguards
Giovanni Falcone ( 2nd from the left) flanked by Bodyguards © Image Source:

Bulletproof, but not Bombproof

The Mafia took a strong hit in December 1987 when Falcone managed to create a little bit of chaos inside the clan but also mocking their prestige. Therefore, when the Corleonesi clan heard that Falcone is preparing a new agency to combat organized crime, the Corleonesi clan prepared for a counter attack.

On May 23, 1992 on the highway between the Palermo International Airport and Palermo, Falcone was killed with his wife and three policemen. Falcone was traveling to his home for his weekly visits. Unfortunately, his bulletproof car was bombed by half-ton of explosives placed in a ditch on the side of the road. When they crossed the bomb, the car had a speed of 160 km/h.

The crime was prepared by Salvatore Riina (Il capo dei capi – The boss of the bosses) as a revenge for Falcone’s conviction of dozens of mobsters in the Maxi Trial. Riina was arrested and was life sentenced. Another convicted for the murder of Falcone is Giovanni Brusca (U scannacristiani – The slayer). He was also life sentenced.

Newspaper title about Falcone assassination
Newspaper title about Falcone assassination © Image Source:

Before and After

Falcone was not the only anti-mafia fighter killed by his enemies in 1990s. Below you’ll find the full list of the killings made by the Mafia in the ‘90s.  


Judge Rosario Livatine was killed by Stidda (star), a criminal organization in the central-southern part of Sicily – September 21.


Judge Antonio Scopelliti was killed by ‘Ndragheta, a criminal organization from Calabria – August 9.


Judge Salvatore Lima, a Christian-Democratic leader was killed in the same city – March 12.

Judge Giovani Falcone among with his wife, Judge Francesca Morvillo are killed by a bomb explosion – May 23.

Judge Paolo Borsellino and his escort of five policemen – July 19.

Giovanni Falcone (on the left) and Paolo Borsellino
Giovanni Falcone (on the left) and Paolo Borsellino © Tony Gentile/Image Source:

The judges were always a living target, “a walking corpse” in the Italian expression. Falcone was a special one because of his extensive knowledge of the Cosa Nostra. His close friend Paolo Borsellino, probably also knew the secrets of the Mafia. Therefore he was also killed in the same year.

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