The via D'Amelio bombing (Italian: Strage di via D'Amelio) was an
attack by the
Sicilian Mafia which took place in Palermo, Sicily, on
19 July 1992. It killed anti-mafia magistrate
Paolo Borsellino and
five members of his police escort: Agostino Catalano, Emanuela Loi
(the first Italian female member of a police escort and the first one
to be killed on duty), Vincenzo Li Muli, Walter Eddie Cosina and
The so-called agenda rossa, the red notebook in which Borsellino used
to write down details of his investigations and which he always
carried on his person, disappeared from the site in the moments after
the explosion. A carabinieri officer who was present when the
explosion occurred reported he had delivered the notebook to Giuseppe
Ayala, the first
Palermo magistrate to arrive at the scene. Ayala, who
said he had refused to receive it, was later criticized for saying
escorts to anti-mafia judges should be reduced, despite evidence of
further failed attempts on them in subsequent years.
3 Investigations and sentences
The bombing occurred at 4:58 PM on 19 July 1992, 57 days after the
bombing of Capaci, in which Borsellino's friend, anti-mafia magistrate
Giovanni Falcone, had been killed with his wife and police escort. The
only survivor of the escort in the massacre of Via D'Amelio, Antonino
Vullo, said the judge had stayed in his summer residence outside
Palermo from 1:30 pm to around 4:00 pm, when he and the
escort drove to Via D'Amelio in the Sicilian capital, where he was to
meet his mother. When they arrived, Vullo and the other agents noticed
nothing unusual except some parked cars. The car in which Borsellino
had been travelling exploded, along with one of the escort cars, while
Vullo was sitting in a third car.
The bomb, containing some 100 kg of TNT, had been placed in a
Fiat 126. Normal procedure when Borsellino travelled was to clear
the road of cars before his arrival, but this was not allowed by the
administration of the comune of Palermo, as reported by another
anti-mafia judge, Antonino Caponnetto. Gaspare Spatuzza, a mafioso
who later became a pentito, eventually revealed he had stolen the Fiat
126 on the orders of the Graviano and Brancaccio mafia clans.
The bloodbath provoked outrage. The night after the massacre,
protesters peacefully besieged the prefecture of Palermo. Borsellino's
funeral saw vehement protests by the crowd against the participants;
the national police chief, Arturo Parisi, was struck while trying to
escape. A few days later, questore (local police commander) Vito
Plantone and prefetto Mario Jovine were transferred. The chief
prosecutor of Palermo, Pietro Giammanco, resigned. Meanwhile, 7,000
soldiers were sent to Sicily to patrol roads and possible locations
Borsellino used to carry a red notebook, the so-called agenda rossa,
in which he wrote down details of his investigations before making an
official record in judicial reports. His colleagues were not given
access to the agenda rossa.
Carabinieri officer Rosario Farinella said later that, after
recovering the agenda rossa from the car, he gave it to Ayala.
Ayala said he was staying in a hotel nearby and rushed to the place
after hearing the explosion. He initially stumbled on the corpse of
Borsellino without recognizing it, as the dead judge was limbless.
Ayala said "an officer in uniform" had offered him the notebook,
but that he had refused it because he lacked authority. Carabinieri
captain Arcangioli said he was not wearing uniform at the scene. In
September 2005, Ayala changed his version, saying he took the agenda
rossa while exploring the destroyed car and later gave it to a
carabinieri officer who was there. Ayala's subsequent statements speak
of an agent alternately in uniform and not in uniform.
On 1 July 1992 Borsellino had held a meeting with Nicola Mancino, who
at the time had just been appointed Minister of the Interior. Details
of the meeting have never been disclosed, but it is likely that
Borsellino had annotated them in his agenda. Mancino, however, always
denied having met Borsellino. In a television interview of 24 July
2009, Ayala said, "Mancino himself told me that he had met Borsellino
on 1 July 1992. Moreover, Mancino showed me his appointments book,
with the name of Borsellino on it." Ayala repudiated this account
in an interview in Sette magazine. A video showing Arcangioli holding
the agenda rossa while inspecting the bombing area was aired in news
on Italian state channel
Rai 1 in 2006.
A personal diary in the possession of Borsellino's family has an
annotation by the judge that reads: "1 July h 19:30 :
Mancino". Vittorio Aliquò, another magistrate, later said he had
accompanied Borsellino "up to the threshold of the minister's
A memorial in Via D'Amelio.
Investigations and sentences
In July 2007 the prosecutor's office in
Caltanissetta opened an
investigation into the possible involvement of agents from SISDE,
Italy's civil intelligence service, in the massacre. At the same
time, a letter from Borsellino's brother Salvatore was published.
Entitled 19 luglio 1992: Una strage di stato ("19 July 1992: A state
massacre"), the letter supports the hypothesis that Minister of the
Interior Mancino knew the reasons for the magistrate's assassination.
Salvatore Borsellino wrote:
I ask senator Mancino, who shed a tear, I remember, during a
commemoration of Paolo in
Palermo in the years after 1992, to strain
his memory to tell us what they talked about in the meeting with Paolo
in the days immediately before his death. Or to explain why, after
phoning my brother to meet him when he was interrogating Gaspare
Mutolo [a mafia pentito] just 48 hours before the massacre, he had him
meet Police Chief Parisi and
Bruno Contrada [a
SISDE officer who was
later convicted for leaking details of investigations to mafiosi], a
meeting that disturbed Paolo so much that he was seen holding two lit
cigarettes at the same time ... That meeting surely holds the key
to his death and to the massacre of Via D'Amelio.
Investigations held by police telecommunications expert Gioacchino
Genchi attested the presence of an undercover
SISDE installation in
Castello Utveggio, an art nouveau castle on Monte Pellegrino, a
Palermo and Via D'Amelio. This was discovered by
analyzing the phone calls of mafia boss Gaetano Scotto, who called a
SISDE phone in the castle. Scotto's brother Pietro had done
maintenance work on phone lines in Via D'Amelio; it was later
discovered that Pietro had tapped Borsellino's mother's phone to
obtain confirmation of Borsellino's arrival before the massacre. All
SISDE disappeared from Castello Utveggio immediately after
the assassination. Mafia boss
Totò Riina spoke about the presence of
the Italian intelligence service on
Monte Pellegrino on 22 May 2004,
in the trial relating to the Via dei Georgofili Massacre. In an
interview on the Italian state TV documentary show La storia siamo noi
(History is Us), Borsellino's wife said he, in the days before the
massacre, had her close the shutters on the windows because "they can
observe us from Castello Utveggio".
The first investigations led to the arrest of Vincenzo Scarantino on
26 September 1992, accused by pentiti of having stolen the car used in
the explosion. (Scarantino later became a pentito himself.) The
magistrates also discovered the phone of Borsellino's mother had been
tapped. A first trial for the massacre ended on 26 January 1996, with
Scarantino sentenced to 18 years in prison, while Giuseppe Orofino,
Salvatore Profeta and Pietro Scotto, those who prepared the bomb and
intercepted the phone, were sentenced to life imprisonment. Scotto
and Orofino, however, were acquitted on appeal. A second trial was
started in 2002 after Scarantino changed his statements; this time,
bosses Riina and
Pietro Aglieri were accused of having ordered the
massacre. Riina, Aglieri, Salvatore Biondino, Giuseppe Graviano, Carlo
Greco, Gaetano Scotto, Francesco Tagliavia, Cosimo Vernengo, Giuseppe
La Mattina, Natale Gambino, Lorenzo Tinnirello, Giuseppe Urso and
Gaetano Muran were sentenced to life imprisonment. A third trial
involved 26 other mafia bosses who had been involved in the massacre
in various ways, ending with life sentences for Bernardo Provenzano,
Pippo Calò, Michelangelo La Barbera, Raffaele Ganci, Domenico Ganci,
Francesco Madonia, Giuseppe Montalto, Filippo Graviano, Cristoforo
Cannella, Salvatore Biondo and another Salvatore Biondo.
In 1992 the Italian political world was shaken by the Mani Pulite
(clean hands) corruption scandal, after which most of the parties that
had been the traditional political supporters of the mafia would
disappear. In 2009 Massimo Ciancimino, son of the mafioso former mayor
Palermo Vito Ciancimino, said the Italian establishment and the
mafia had been negotiating a pact in those days. Among other things,
the agreement would involve the creation of a new party, Forza Italia,
with the help of founder Silvio Berlusconi's chief collaborator,
Marcello Dell'Utri, who was later convicted of allegiance to the
After the new revelations, Sicilian attorneys started new
investigations based on the hypothesis that Borsellino knew of the
negotiations between the mafia,
SISDE and senior politicians, and that
he was assassinated because of this knowledge. The existence of
negotiations between Italian institutions and the Sicilian mafia was
confirmed in 2012 by
Caltanissetta prosecutor Nico Gozzo as "by now an
^ Letizia, Marco. "Borsellino, 10 anni fa la strage di via D'Amelio".
Il Corriere della Sera
Il Corriere della Sera (in Italian). RCS. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
^ a b c d e f Borsellino, Salvatore (27 September 2010). "Le domande
che non-avrei voluto fare".
Il Fatto Quotidiano
Il Fatto Quotidiano (in Italian).
Retrieved 23 May 2012.
^ Interview of agent Vullo the day after the massacre. (in Italian)
^ a b Di Giovacchino, Rita (2003). Il libro nero della prima
Repubblica (in Italian). Rome: Fazi Editore.
^ Bianconi, Giovanni. "Il pentito e le stragi La nuova verità che
agita l'antimafia] Il pentito e le stragi La nuova verità che agita
Il Corriere della Sera
Il Corriere della Sera (in Italian). RCS. Retrieved 23
^ Martorana, Giuseppe & Meli, Angelo. "Strage di via D'Amelio" (in
Italian). Retrieved 17 July 2013.
^ Bongiovanni, Giorgio; Lorenzo Baldo (2010). Gli ultimi giorni di
Paolo Borsellino. Aliberti. ISBN 9788874246632.
^ "Gli ultimi giorni di Paolo Borsellino". Il Fatto Quotidiano. 19
^ Borsellino, Salvatore. "LA REPLICA DI SALVATORE BORSELLINO AL
SEN.MANCINO". Retrieved 23 May 2012.
^ Alfano, Chicco. "Quell'agenda rossa di Paolo Borsellino..." Archived
from the original on 12 June 2009. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
^ Bassi, Cristina. "Strage di via D'Amelio: 15 anni dopo, ancora
troppi dubbi". Panorama. Mondadori. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
^ "Il fratello di Borsellino: "Mancino ora sveli perché incontrò
Paolo"". Il Giornale. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
^ After the revelation, Genchi was removed from the investigation and
the Castello Utveggio case was archived by the Tribunal of
^ Palazzolo, Salvo (2010). "Il cavaliere Utveggio e i misteri di
Palermo". I pezzi mancanti.
^ "Borsellino, Servizi segreti e Castello Utveggio". Retrieved 23 May
^ a b "Via D'Amelio, 19 luglio 1992". Polizia e Democrazia website.
Retrieved 23 May 2012.
^ "Ciancimino: FI frutto della trattativa Stato-mafia". Retrieved 23
^ "Parla Riina:"Delitto di Stato". In pochi alla cerimonia". Il Secolo
XIX. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
^ "Strage via D'Amelio, quattro nuovi arresti. 'Borsellino sapeva di
trattative Stato-mafia'". ADN Kronos. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
Bongiovanni, Giorgio; Lorenzo Baldo (2010). Gli ultimi giorni di Paolo
Borsellino. Aliberti. ISBN 9788874246632.
Chain of command
Codes and terms
Sicilian Mafia members
Sicilian Mafia members by city
Grand Hotel des Palmes Mafia meeting 1957
First Mafia War
First Mafia War (1961–1963)
Second Mafia War
Second Mafia War (1981–1983)
Massacres and bombings
Portella della Ginestra massacre
Portella della Ginestra massacre (1947)
Ciaculli bombing (1963)
Viale Lazio massacre
Viale Lazio massacre (1969)
Circonvallazione massacre (1982)
Via Carini massacre
Via Carini massacre (1982)
Via Federico Pipitone massacre (1983)
Train 904 bombing (1984)
Pizzolungo bombing (1985)
Capaci bombing (1992)
Via D'Amelio bombing
Via D'Amelio bombing (1992)
Via dei Georgofili bombing
Via dei Georgofili bombing (1993)
Via Palestro massacre
Via Palestro massacre (1993)
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