The Week (US)

Why we go easy on mobsters

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Giuseppe Pipitone

Persuading a mafioso to turn state’s witness is the best way to fight organized crime, said Giuseppe Pipitone. But getting one to do so is incredibly difficult. Why should a mobster “accuse himself of massacres and heinous crimes,” implicate his former associates, and “expose his family to the risk of being murdered?” That is why Italy introduced Law 82 of 1991, which lets prosecutor­s offer mafiosi reduced prison sentences and witness protection after release for their cooperatio­n. The law has been hugely successful, tempting thug after thug to snitch. Among them is Giovanni Brusca, the Cosa Nostra hitman known as the Strangler, who admitted to more than 100 murders after his 1996 arrest—including the 14-year-old son of a Mafia informant. Brusca testified against dozens of mobsters, earning him the right to an abridged 25-year sentence and conjugal visits. Following Brusca’s release last week, the leader of the farright Lega party, Matteo Salvini, and other toughon-crime posturers demanded that such plea bargains be scrapped. They should remember that the law was written by one of Brusca’s own victims, the anti-Mafia Judge Giovanni Falcone. Now they would undo Falcone’s greatest achievemen­t? That would be the real travesty of justice.

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