Giovanni Falcone

Italian judge and anti-mafia prosecutor, assassinated in 1992

Giovanni Falcone was an Italian judge and magistrate who spent most of his professional life trying to take on the Sicilian mafia.

In the 1980’s Falcone and his friend and colleague Paolo Borsellino prosecuted hundreds of Cosa Nostra members. Known as the Maxi Trial, it was the largest mafia court case in history: 475 mafiosi were brought to court and 346 were found guilty.

In 1991, Falcone moved from Palermo to Rome to work in the Ministry of Justice, where he started to restructure the Italian prosecution system to better fight organised crime. He prevented the Supreme Court from reviewing the sentence of the Maxi Trial, and most of the convictions were upheld by the Italian Court of Cassation in January 1992.

The mafia responded with a series of murders and bombings that shook the country. Falcone reportedly once said: “My life is mapped out: it is my destiny to take a bullet from the mafia some day. The only thing I don't know is when."

Judge Giovanni Falcone was killed by a massive car bomb on May 23, 1992, on a highway near Palermo. His wife and three police officers died with him. His colleague Paolo Borsellino was killed by another car bomb two months later.

The two assassinated judges have become a symbol of the struggle against Cosa Nostra.

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