|President of Sicily|
20 March 1978 – 6 January 1980
|Preceded by||Angelo Bonfiglio|
|Succeeded by||Mario D'Acquisto|
May 24, 1935|
Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, Italy
|Died||6 January 1980
Palermo, Sicily, Italy
|Political party||Christian Democracy|
|Alma mater||University of Palermo|
Piersanti Mattarella (May 24, 1935 – January 6, 1980) was an Italian politician. He was assassinated by the Mafia while he held the position of President of the Regional Government of Sicily. He was the brother of Sergio Mattarella, President of Italian Republic since February 2015.
Background and early career
Mattarella was born in Castellammare del Golfo, in the province of Trapani, Sicily. He was the son of Bernardo Mattarella, a member of Christian Democracy (DC), and a leading political boss in Sicily in the 1950s. The power network his father had created benefited his initial political career.
He received a Catholic-oriented education by the Jesuits. In 1960 he became a national leader of the Azione Cattolica, and subsequently became an important regional member of DC. Inspired by the politics of Giorgio La Pira, he adhered to the more progressive approach of national leader Aldo Moro. In 1967 he became deputy to the Regional Parliament of Sicily, a position he held until 1978, when he was elected President of Sicily.
Killed by the Mafia
Two years later, on January 6, 1980, he was killed by the Mafia in Palermo. Initially believed to be an act of neo-fascist terrorism, his assassination was spurred by his strong commitment against the relationships of numerous Sicilian politicians (mostly members of DC itself) with the Mafia. While in office, Mattarella had decided to launch a moral renewal of the Sicilian Christian Democracy. He wanted to clean up the government’s public contracts racket that benefited Cosa Nostra, passing a law enforcing the same building standards used in the rest of Italy, thereby making the Mafia's building schemes illegal.
Soon, Mattarella became isolated. The inspector he had asked to conduct an investigation into the public contracts in Palermo, Raimondo Mignosi, recalled the air of intimidation at the time: “I told him to be careful because I ran the risk of ending up in a cement block, at which he replied, ‘That’s not true, I’ll end up in the cement.’ To break the tension, we jokingly agreed that we would both end up in cement blocks side by side.”
Political involvement in murder
The Mafia used its contacts with forthcoming Sicilian DC-politicians such as Salvo Lima and the Salvo cousins to complain to former prime minister Giulio Andreotti about the behaviour of Mattarella, according to Mafia turncoat (pentito) Francesco Marino Mannoia. Andreotti contacted Mafia boss Stefano Bontade to try to prevent the Mafia from killing Piersanti Mattarella. Bontade and other Mafiosi felt betrayed by Mattarella, who used to be responsive to their interests (his father Bernardo Mattarella was rumoured to be associated with the Mafia).
Andreotti’s attempt failed. After the murder of Mattarella, Andreotti again contacted Bontade and Salvatore Inzerillo to try to straighten things out. Andreotti and Lima allegedly arrived at the meeting in a bullet-proof Alfa Romeo, belonging to the Salvo cousins. He had come to protest the killing. However, according to Marino Mannoia, Bontade told Andreotti: "We are in charge in Sicily and, unless you want the whole DC cancelled out, you do as we say." When Andreotti’s aide Franco Evangelisti asked Lima about what had happened, Lima replied: “When agreements are struck, they have to be kept”.
According to Marino Mannoia the killers of Mattarella were Salvatore Federico, Francesco Davì, Santo Inzerillo and Antonio Rotolo, while the principals were on the Sicilian Mafia Commission, at the time – Bontade and Inzerillo, as well as Michele Greco, Salvatore Riina, Bernardo Provenzano, Antonino Geraci, Francesco Madonia, Pippo Calò, Bernardo Brusca.
The Mattarella killing was also part of the trial against Andreotti for collusion with the Mafia. The court established that Andreotti had indeed had strong ties to the Mafia until 1980, and had used them to further his political career to such an extent as to be considered a component of the Mafia itself. The judges decided to uphold Andreotti's original acquittal on grounds of expiration of statutory terms because he had severed relations with the Mafia from 1980. It attributed the turnaround to Mattarella's murder.
According to Leoluca Orlando, former mayor of Palermo for the DC and Antimafia activist, who had been a legal adviser to Mattarella, the rumours about his father and his party’s experiences with the Mafia were probably responsible for Piersanti’s aspiration to clean the Christian Democrat party of any such connections.
The Italian national Anti-mafia Prosecutor, Piero Grasso, said that Mattarella was killed because "he was trying to accomplish a new political and administrative project, a true revolution, which, through a deep change in the management of the Region, aimed at breaking well established relations between bureaucracy, politics, business and the mafia. His policy of radical moralization of public life, based on the idea that Sicily needed to present itself with 'the papers in order', had upset the system of public procurement, with stunning moves, never seen before in the Island". Judge Giancarlo Caselli, Chief Prosecutor in Palermo for many years, described Mattarella as "a honest and courageous Christian democrat, killed just because he was honest and courageous".
- Ginsborg, Italy and Its Discontents, p. 206
- Stille, Excellent Cadavers, p. 31
- Schneider & Schneider, Reversible Destiny, p. 158
- Mob Rule - Fighting the Mafia and Renewing Sicilian Culture - Review, National Review, October 1, 2001
- Stille, Excellent Cadavers, p. 83
- Dickie, Cosa Nostra, p. 423-24
- The Andreotti Affair: Supergrasses target Andreotti, The Independent, April 16, 1993
- Stille, Excellent Cadavers, p. 391
- (Italian) "I killer erano mafiosi e non neri", Corriere della Sera, April 5, 1995
- 'Kiss of honour' between Andreotti and Mafia head never happened, say judges, The Independent, July 26, 2003
- Orlando, Fighting the Mafia and Renewing Sicilian Culture, p. 47
- Grasso, Per non morire di mafia, p. 5.
- (Italian) 'Cosi' si aiuta un imputato che e' accusato di mafia', La Repubblica, August 12, 1997
- Dickie, John (2004). Cosa Nostra. A history of the Sicilian Mafia, London: Coronet, ISBN 0-340-82435-2
- Ginsborg, Paul (2003). Italy and Its Discontents, London: Palgrave Macmillan ISBN 1-4039-6152-2 (Review Institute of Historical Research | Review New York Times)
- Grasso, Piero (2009). Per non morire di mafia, Sperling & Kupfer, ISBN
- Orlando, Leoluca (2003). Fighting the Mafia and Renewing Sicilian Culture, New York: Encounter Books, ISBN 1-893554-81-3
- Schneider, Jane T. & Peter T. Schneider (2003). Reversible Destiny: Mafia, Antimafia, and the Struggle for Palermo, Berkeley: University of California Press ISBN 0-520-23609-2
- Stille, Alexander (1995). Excellent Cadavers. The Mafia and the Death of the First Italian Republic, New York: Vintage ISBN 0-09-959491-9