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Arrests 'add new piece' to Falcone death puzzle

'External hand' ruled out but sister hopes for more

16 April, 18:22
Arrests 'add new piece' to Falcone death puzzle (By Denis Greenan).

(ANSA) - Caltanissetta, April 16 - A raft of arrests Tuesday shed new light on the murder of Giovanni Falcone but also raised fresh calls for the missing piece of the jigsaw, the possible role of people outside Cosa Nostra hostile to the anti-Mafia prosecutor and his fellow martyr Paolo Borsellino, to be found.

Falcone was killed by a massive bomb under the highway from Palermo to its airport in May 1992; his friend Borsellino was assassinated in July by a huge carbomb outside his mother's apartment block.

In 2007, Sicilian prosecutors opened a new investigation into allegations by Borsellino's brother that Italy's secret services were involved in his murder. The probe into the so-called 'mandanti occulti', the still- unknown persons outside Cosa Nostra behind the magistrates' assassination, has not reached a conclusion. Commenting on Tuesday's eight new arrest warrants for the Falcone killing, his sister Maria said: "I'm happy about the outcome of the Caltanissetta probe which has uncovered other culprits, a sign that investigations are moving forward".

She noted that Caltanissetta Prosecutor Sergio Lari had ruled out any others apart from the Mafia having had a hand in the assassination, but added: "I still hope that the external people who ordered (the bombing), if there are any, will be found.

"This drip-feeding of revelations is destroying the victims' families" Falcone said. A book published Sunday, 'Doppio livello. Come si organizza la destabilizazzione in Italia' (Double Level, How Destabilisation Is Organised In Italy), by Mafia journalist Stefania Limiti, said "various other elements were present at Capaci" the town near Palermo that gives the bombing its name.

In the last chapter, 'Bandiere false a Capaci' (False Flags at Capaci), Limiti quotes the lawyer of former Mafia boss of bosses, Salvatore 'The Beast' Riina, as saying "The Capaci massacre was 90% Mafia, the rest was added by the others".

The Borsellino murder, on the other hand, was "50-50", said the lawyer, Luca Cianferoni.

The warrants issued Tuesday for the murders of Falcone, his wife Francesca Morvillo and three bodyguards included Mafia boss Salvo Madonia and Palermo fisherman Cosimo D'Amato. Investigators believe D'Amato procured the half-tonne of TNT used in the attack.

All the suspects were already in prison for alleged or convicted mafia crimes.

The arrests follow a new investigation based partly on statements by two former members of the Sicilian Mafia who had turned state witnesses.

This evidence has thrown new light on the attack, including the role of the Brancaccio Mafia clan in its preparation and execution. The head of Italy's Anti-Mafia Investigative Directorate (DIA), Arturo De Felice, said Tuesday's development represented a "fundamental piece" in the puzzle.

Lari, the Caltannissetta prosecutor who led the new probe, said: "Cosa Nostra had a unified plan behind the bombing strategy to challenge the State to reach an accommodation".

Several people including former interior minister Nicola Mancino and a former close aide of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi, Marcello Dell'Utri, who has already convicted of Mafia links, have been indicted in Palermo on suspicion of negotiating with Cosa Nostra to stop the bombing campaign.

Prosecutor Lari said the campaign "kicked off a new approach in attacking (Italian) institutions and the conditions were created to enable (the Mafia) to sit down at the negotiating table".

Ruling out the idea that rogue spies or even politicians might have had some part in ordering the bombings, Lari stressed "the Mafia doesn't take orders".

But Lari's subordinate, Assistant Prosecutor Domenico Gozzo, underscored the importance of "clearing up the motives that led Riina to choose the terrorist strategy".

"We know almost everything about the Capaci bombing and, in part, the Borsellino one, and now we can focus on the rest: only a few black holes are left," Gozzo said.

"We need to get to the bottom of why Cosa Nostra turned from a Mafia association into a Mafia-terrorist association".

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