September 30, 1931 |
Giuseppe 'Pippo' Calò (born September 30, 1931) is a member of the Sicilian Mafia. He was referred to as the "Mafia's Cashier" because he was heavily involved in the financial side of organized crime, primarily money laundering. He has been charged with ordering the murder of Roberto Calvi – nicknamed "God's banker" – of the Banco Ambrosiano in 1982, but has been cleared in 2007 because of "insufficient evidence" in a surprise verdict.
Boss of the Porta Nuova Mafia family
Born and raised in Palermo, the capital of Sicily, he was inducted into the Porta Nuova Mafia Family at the age of twenty-three after carrying out a murder to avenge his father. By 1969 he was the boss of Porta Nuova, and amongst his men was the future informant (pentito) Tommaso Buscetta. Calò was on the Sicilian Mafia Commission, a group of the most powerful Mafia bosses in Sicily who regularly met, supposedly to iron out differences and solve disputes.
In the beginning of the 1970s Calò moved to Rome. Under the guise of an antiques dealer and under the false identity of Mario Agliarolo he invested in real estate and laundered large proceeds of crime for many Mafia families. He was able to establish close links with common criminals of the Banda della Magliana, neo-fascist groups and members of the Italian intelligence agencies.
Calò arranged the bombing of the 904 express train between Florence and Bologna on December 23, 1984 that killed 16 people and injured around 200 others. It was meant to divert attention from the revelations given by various Mafia informants, including Buscetta. Calò and his men had joined up with neo-fascist terrorists and the Camorra to carry out the atrocity.
Giuseppe Calò's 1985 arrest
After several years as a fugitive, Calò was arrested on March 30, 1985, in a villa at Poggio San Lorenzo, in the province of Rieti, together with Antonio Rotolo, one of the Mafia's heroin movers. He was one of the hundreds of defendants at the Maxi Trial that started the following year, where he was charged with Mafia association, money laundering and the Naples train bombing. He cross-examined Tommaso Buscetta himself and the pair, who had previously been lifelong friends, engaged in a vicious round of mud-slinging and insults as they attempted to discredit each other.
At the end of the Maxi Trial in 1987 Calò was found guilty and given two life sentences. Anti-Mafia prosecutors and investigators were outraged when it was discovered in 1989 that Calò and a number of other convicted Mafia bosses were living a life of relative luxury in their own section of the prison hospital, being waited on by common criminals and having their food brought in from the outside. Calò was supposedly suffering from asthma but he showed no symptoms. The anti-Mafia judges forced Calò and his fellow Mafiosi back to their cells. He was substituted by Salvatore Cancemi as capo mandamento of the Puorta Nova family.
Roberto Calvi's 1982 murder
In July 1991 the Mafia pentito (a mafioso turned informer) Francesco Marino Mannoia claimed that Roberto Calvi – nicknamed "God's banker" because he was in charge of Banco Ambrosiano, in which the Vatican Bank was the main share-holder – had been killed in 1982 because he had lost Mafia funds when the Banco Ambrosiano collapsed. According to Mannoia the killer was Francesco Di Carlo, a mafioso living in London at the time, and the order to kill Calvi had come from Calò and Licio Gelli, the head of the secret Italian masonic lodge Propaganda Due (P2). When Di Carlo became an informer in June 1996, he denied that he was the killer, but admitted that he had been approached by Calò to do the job. However, Di Carlo could not be reached in time, and when he later called Calò, the latter said that everything had been taken care of already.
In 1997, Italian prosecutors in Rome implicated Calò in Calvi's murder, along with Flavio Carboni, a Sardinian businessman with wide ranging interests, as well as Ernesto Diotallevi (one of the leaders of the Banda della Magliana, a Roman Mafia-like organization) and Di Carlo.
In July 2003, the prosecution concluded that the Mafia acted not only in its own interests, but also to ensure that Calvi could not blackmail "politico-institutional figures and [representatives] of freemasonry, the P2 lodge, and the Institute for Works of Religion with whom he had invested substantial sums of money, some of it from Cosa Nostra and Italian public corporations". The trial finally began in October 2005.
In March 2007, prosecutor Luca Tescaroli requested life sentences for the already convicted Pippo Calò, Flavio Carboni, Ernesto Diotallevi and Calvi's bodyguard Silvano Vittor. All of them deny involvement. Tescaroli began his conclusions by saying Calvi was killed "to punish him for taking large quantities of money from criminal organisations and especially the Mafia organisation known as the 'Cosa Nostra'."
On June 6, 2007, Calò and his co-defendants were cleared of murdering Calvi. The presiding judge in the trial threw out the charges because of "insufficient evidence" in a surprise verdict after 20 months of evidence. Calò, who gave evidence from his high security prison, denied the charges. "I had no interest in killing Calvi," he said. "I didn't have the time, nor the inclination. Besides, if I had wanted him dead do you not think I would have picked my own people to do the job?" Calò's defence argued there were others who had wanted Calvi silenced.
In September 2001, in the course of the trial of the Via D'Amelio bloodbath that killed judge Paolo Borsellino and his escort, Pippo Calò declared he dissociated from Cosa Nostra. In an extraordinary statement he admitted Cosa Nostra existed and that he had been part of its Commission – breaking the law of silence or omertà.
However, he did not become a pentito – government witness – and refused to testify against his fellow mafiosi. Calò said he was prepared to face his own responsibility but would not name others. “I am a mafioso but I don’t want to be accused of bloodbaths,” he said.
- Italy Convicts 7 in Bombing Of Train Fatal to 16 in 1984, Associated Press, on The New York Times, February 26, 1989
- Mafia 'murdered banker over bungled deal', The Scotsman, February 15, 2006
- Mafia wanted me to kill Calvi, says jailed gangster, The Daily Telegraph, December 11, 2005
- Calvi was murdered by the mafia, Italian experts rule, The Guardian, July 25, 2003
- Calvi murder trial opens in Rome, Associated Press, October 6, 2005
- The case of God's Banker: Roberto Calvi the trial begins, The Independent, October 6, 2005
- Four accused of "God's banker" death may face life, Reuters, March 7, 2007
- God's Banker' Murder - Five Cleared, Sky News, June 6, 2007
- Five acquitted over Calvi death, BBC News, June 6, 2007
- Five cleared over murder of 'God's Banker', The Times, June 6, 2007
- The many secrets of 'God's Banker', BBC News, June 6, 2007
- (Italian) Il cassiere di Cosa Nostra: "Mi dissocio ma non mi pento", La Repubblica, September 25, 2001
- Stille, Alexander (1995). Excellent Cadavers. The Mafia and the Death of the First Italian Republic, New York: Vintage ISBN 0-09-959491-9
- Dickie, John (2004). Cosa Nostra. A history of the Sicilian Mafia, London: Coronet ISBN 0-340-82435-2
- (Italian) Buscetta e la Mafia sfila al Maxiprocesso di Palermo YouTube