2012 Brindisi school bombing

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2012 Brindisi school bombing
Istituto Morvillo Falcone Bomba 1.jpg
The Morvillo Falcone high school, two days after the bombing.
LocationBrindisi, Apulia, Italy
DateSaturday, May 19, 2012
7:45 a.m. (Central European Summer Time)
TargetMorvillo Falcone high school
Attack type
School bombing, murder
WeaponsThree gas cylinder bombs
Non-fatal injuries
PerpetratorGiovanni Vantaggiato
Suspected perpetrators
Sacra Corona Unita

The 2012 Brindisi school bombing occurred on May 19, 2012, when three gas cylinder bombs hidden in a large rubbish bin exploded in front of the Morvillo Falcone high school in Brindisi, Italy, killing one 16-year-old female student and injuring five others, one seriously.[1]


The attack took place in Brindisi, Apulia, on the morning of Saturday, 19 May 2012, when at 7:45 a.m. local time three gas cylinder bombs detonated inside a rubbish bin close to the entrance gate in front of the Morvillo Falcone high school as students were arriving and milling outside. A bus had just unloaded more students. The cylinders, which were tied together, exploded beside 16-year-old fashion student Melissa Bassi, who took the full force of the powerful blast wave and suffered "horrific injuries", which included burns on 90 percent of her body and the loss of an arm.[2][3] She died shortly afterwards in hospital.[2]

Another sixteen-year-old student, Veronica Capodieci, was seriously wounded with grave chest and abdominal injuries.[4] Four other students, including the older sister of Veronica, were injured and badly burned; one girl risked losing both legs.[1][4] Fellow students immediately rushed to help the victims before the ambulances and police arrived. The injured students lay on the ground with their hair and clothing burnt, the school wall near the blast's epicentre showed extensive scorching, and the street was littered with books, papers and knapsacks. Glass from shattered windows also covered the pavement.[1]

Three gas cylinders like these pictured here were used as bombs

A woman who was caught up in the explosion described having seen "a girl lying on the ground and another one who got up and started shouting". Another witness who worked in the building adjacent to the school stated succinctly his impressions of the bombing: "I was opening the window and the blast wave hit me. I saw kids on the ground. All blackened. Their books on fire. It was terrifying."[1]


Because the bombing had targeted a school and students, there was an instant outpouring of anger and revulsion for the attack from people all over Italy. In all major Italian cities thousands of people held emotional demonstrations against the bombing and rising social tensions brought about by the economic crisis.[5]

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, who was out of the country at the time attending a G8 summit held in Camp David, condemned the attack as "cowardly" and "without precedent".[1] French president François Hollande was also present at the summit. He expressed France's "deep solidarity" with the Italian nation.[1] Pope Benedict XVI called the attack "despicable".

Three days of national mourning were declared and the Italian flag was flown at half-mast throughout the country. Crowds of locals went to the high school to pay their respects by laying flowers at the bomb site. The school's head teacher Angelo Rampino made the following angry statements, "It is the first time in Italy that a school has been attacked. The entire country must rise up. We cannot accept this".[5] On the evening of the bombing, presenter Maria De Filippi dedicated the finale of the 11th edition of her televised talent show Amici di Maria De Filippi to the memory of Melissa Bassi.[6]


Chiesa Madre di Mesagne, where victim Melissa Bassi's state funeral was held

On Monday, 21 May 2012, victim Melissa Bassi was given a state funeral. It was held at the 17th-century church the Chiesa Madre di Mesagne in Mesagne, the comune where she lived. It was broadcast live on Raidue. Leading politicians, government ministers, and local dignitaries were in attendance, including Prime Minister Monti and President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Gianfranco Fini.[7]

Mafia connection[edit]

The school is named after Giovanni Falcone, an Italian prosecuting magistrate killed, along with his wife, Francesca Morvillo, by the Corleonesi Mafia in May 1992 on the motorway near the town of Capaci, Sicily. The attack in Brindisi took place just five days before the 20th anniversary of Falcone's killing, and an anti-mafia march was scheduled in Brindisi the same day.[8]

First opinions suggested that the local mafia group Sacra Corona Unita was involved. On 5 May 2012, a bomb damaged the car of an anti-racket officer, and subsequent police raids led to the arrest of 16 mafia members.[4]

Arrests and prison[edit]

Within 24 hours after the attack, police arrested two men suspected of carrying out the bombing. They were taken in for questioning after police examined the film taken from nearby security cameras. The footage revealed a well-dressed, middle-aged man activating a remote control that detonated the bomb just after the bus unloaded students. One of the suspects was a man aged between 50 and 55 with a military background and "knowledge of electronics".[5] Both men were subsequently released after police determined that they had no connection to the bombing. Further investigations moved from organized crime, due to lack of tangible evidences. In June 2013 Giovanni Vantaggiato, who admitted to have managed the bombing for personal reasons, was sentenced to life in prison for the crime.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Bomb kills girl outside school in Brindisi, Italy". BBC News. 19 May 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Father of teenage fashion student killed in Italian bomb blast breaks down in tears at Sunday mass". Mail Online. 21 May 2012 Retrieved 21 May 2012
  3. ^ "Brindisi, bomba colpisce una scuola Muore una ragazza, altre 5 studenti feriti". Corriere della Sera. 19 May 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2012
  4. ^ a b c Squires, Nick (19 May 2012). "Mafia accused of Italian school bombing that killed teenage girl". The Telegraph. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  5. ^ a b c "Two arrested over deadly school bombing". The Sydney Morning Herald. Gildas Le Roux. 21 May 2012 Retrieved 20 May 2012
  6. ^ "Amici 11: vince Alessandra Amoroso. La finale è stata dedicata a Melissa Bassi, la giovane morta a Brindisi". Starlounge Inside Celebrity News. 20 May 2012 Retrieved 20 May 2012
  7. ^ TG2, Raidue, 21 May 2012, 16.30. "Funeral of Melissa Bassi".
  8. ^ "Fatal School Bomb Attack Raises Fear of Strife in Italy". New York Times. 19 May 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2012.
  9. ^ The Guardian, article by Andrea Vogt, June 7, 2012.