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Spatuzza, the Gravianos and the State of Exception

by de Gondi Fri Dec 11th, 2009 at 05:16:45 AM EST

Today, December 11th, judges will interrogate the Graviano brothers in the appeal to Senator Dell'Utri's nine year prison sentence for external association with the mafia. The Gravianos were the bosses of the Brancaccio mandamento during the Mafia terror season of 1992-1994. Recent testimony by Gaspare Spatuzza, the self-accused principal organizer of  most of the bombings and assassination hits during that period, has caused the reopening of legal cases throughout Italy and has tentatively worsened Dell'Utri's position. Gaspare Spatuzza was  the Gravianos' top hitman and became the proxy boss of the Brancaccio mandamento when the Gravianos were arrested in 1994. While the Gravianos preferred to live in Milan while at large in the late eighties until their arrest, Spatuzza acted as their plenipotentiary in Palermo. Spatuzza's unconditioned devotion to the Gravianos remains unchanged to this day. For him, Giuseppe Graviano is Madre Natura, Mother Nature.

Front-paged with an edit by afew

It is not known at the moment if the Gravianos will talk and, if that were the case, whether they will support or confute Spatuzza's depositions concerning them and their relations with Dell'Utri and Silvio Berlusconi. Until now, neither brother has come out against Spatuzza. What little they have said remains ambiguous. Were the scenario described by Spatuzza concerning Berlusconi true, it could just as well be a ploy, a barter chip, or a strong signal of displeasure for broken promises. Dell'Utri's case is different. He has been condemned on solid evidence- his own notebooks and legal wiretaps- that has been confirmed by a myriad of state collaborators. It has further been proved in his trial that Dell'Utri had continuous and long-standing relations with the Gravianos before the nineties. Spatuzza's testimony simply adds further testimony.

In this specific instance, Spatuzza's accusations simply take the case one step further up the ladder: testimony by his underlings or associates date back to 1996. According to a SISDE dossier, informants furnished information (not valid as evidence in a trial) in the immediate wake of events. At the time the assertion that Berlusconi was behind the terror campaign was de relato. State collaborators declared that Spatuzza had told them that the Gravianos conspired with Berlusconi. Now that Spatuzza confirms those same accusations, it only remains to see if the Gravianos will confirm or deny Berlusconi's direct involvement in the terrorist campaign.

Spatuzza's gravest accusation is against himself. By admitting that he organized and executed the assassination of Judge Paolo Borsellino and that he prepared the murder well before the assassination of Judge Giovanni Falcone, the Brancaccio mandamento assumes a pivotal executive role in the Mafia terror campaign of the early nineties. The past months has seen his testimony confirmed by independent evidence, by facts that only he could have known. Most important, the mafiosi who had confessed to Borsellino's assassination have recanted.  Aside the fact that a dozen innocent people were condemned for the crime, it remains that the mafia deliberately sought to derail suspicion from the Brancaccio mandamento through false evidence and false confessions. This perhaps is one of the gravest conclusions.

In the past week we have witnessed an extraordinary media campaign by Berlusconi and his loyal opposition. On one front we are told to believe that no government has ever been so rigorous in the war against organized crime. Motherly anchorwomen open primetime news with the triumphs of Berlusconi's war on crime while patently pro-mafia legislation is being ramrodded through Parliament. On another front, Gaspare Spatuzza is the object of a smear campaign of simple, repetitive memes: an assassin of 40 people, including a child, a murderer who didn't talk for a decade. Dell'Utri has an entire evening to himself on national television to lard on his point of view without a contradictory and without the presence of a real reporter. An in depth reportage of Dell'Utri's trial on an independent channel is cancelled. Anyone who wants to know about the trial and Dell'Utri's guilty sentence has to go out and buy books or read summaries in the lay opposition press.

The media campaign against the judiciary is intensified to such ridiculous levels that the minister of justice accuses judges of spending too much time in television. Yesterday, the Italian Council President chose the EPP Congress in Bonn to launch a brutal, mendacious attack on the independent powers of the state: against the Constitutional Court and the President of the Republic. His habit of using international venues to attack the opposition, State institutes and the Constitution offends the common sense of courtesy and diplomacy and reveals a petty personality obsessed to the point of paranoid delirium. Berlusconi has had fair play of his favoured rhetorical tactic, vehemence, vehemence that disguises the vacuity of ones' arguments, the failure to dialogue, the compulsive urge to lie.

Prominent members of the EPP had little to comment beside the reported enigmatic words of Wilfried Martens, "[Berlusconi] is the first Italian Council President since the First World War to have such a strong majority." He forgot that other rightwing Council President, Benito Mussolini. Martens should either change war or come to terms with the demagogic impulses within his own party.

The undeniable successes against organized crime are due to the merit of investigative judges and police forces who work under the deplorable conditions imposed by nearly a decade of Berlusconi governments. In order to capture Bernardo Provenzano and Domenico Raccuglia, individual cops had to pay expenses from their own pockets. In the former case, the Catturandi squad took the state to court for not paying costs and bonuses.

In last Saturday's open thread I reported on Spatuzza's case. In one comment, in reply to DoDo, I did not translate passages from several articles containing extracts from legal depositions. Here are my translations:

"Ho un patto con Berlusconi Questo mi rivelò il boss" by Francesco Viviano on November 21, 2009

Spatuzza dice ai pm Alessandro Crini e Giuseppe Nicolosi della Dda di Firenze: "Ritengo di poter escludere categoricamente, conoscendoli assai bene (i fratelli Giuseppe e Filippo Graviano ndr) che i Graviano si siano mossi nei confronti di Berlusconi e Dell'Utri attraverso altre persone. Non prendo in considerazione la possibilità che Graviano abbia stretto un patto politico con costoro senza averci parlato personalmente".

Spatuzza era il braccio destro dei fratelli Giuseppe e Filippo Graviano (entrambi in carcere con ergastoli per stragi e omicidi tra i quali quello del sacerdote Don Pino Puglisi e del figlioletto del pentito Di Matteo). Quando Giuseppe Graviano gli rivelò il "patto" che sarebbe stato stretto con Berlusconi, si trovava a Roma per preparare il fallito attentato allo Stadio Olimpico per uccidere decine di carabinieri.

Spatuzza tells the  public prosecutors Alessandro Crini and Giuseppe Nicolosi of the District Antimafia Bureau of Florence [Direzione Distrettuale Antimafia]: "I feel that I can categorically rule out, knowing them very well (the brothers Giuseppe and Filippo Graviano), that the Gravianos would not have worked together with Berlusconi and Dell'Utri through other people. I do not consider it possible that Graviano would have made a political pact with them without having spoken to them personally."

Spatuzza was the right arm of the brothers Giuseppe and Filippo Graviano (both in prison with life sentences for massacres and killings including that of the priest, Father Pino Puglisi and the son of the state collaborator Di Matteo). When Giuseppe Graviano revealed the "pact" that he had entered on with Berlusconi, he [Spatuzza] was in Rome to prepare the failed attack at the Stadio Olimpico to kill dozens of Carabinieri.

Il pentito parla quindi dall'alto dei suoi rapporti privilegiati con i boss e ai pm fiorentini aggiunge: "Non posso sapere quale fosse il proposito che Berlusconi e Dell'Utri avessero in mente stringendo questo patto. La mia esperienza di queste vicende, ma è una mia deduzione, è che costoro (Berlusconi e Dell'Utri ndr) che in primo momento hanno fatto fare le stragi a Cosa Nostra, si volevano poi accreditare all'esterno come coloro che erano stati in grado di farle cessare. E quando poi li vedo scendere in politica, partecipando alle elezioni e vincendole, capisco che sono loro direttamente quelli su cui noi (Cosa Nostra-ndr) abbiamo puntato tutto". The state witness then speaks from his privileged position with the bosses and tells the Florentine [investigators]: "I cannot know what was the plan Berlusconi and Dell'Utri had in mind in making this pact. My experience of these events- but it is my deduction- is that once they [Berlusconi and Dell'Utri] had brought about the massacres through Cosa Nostra, they could then accredit themselves to the outside world as those who were able to stop them. And then, when I saw them get into politics, participate in the elections and win, I understood directly that they were the ones on whom we [of Cosa Nostra] had staked everything.

Un altro pentito accusa Berlusconi "Ebbe un ruolo nelle stragi del '93" by Francesco Viviano on November 24, 2009

L'interrogatorio di Romeo è del 30 settembre scorso ed era stato già sentito dai pm fiorentini nel giugno del '96. Allora Berlusconi e Dell'Utri erano finiti nel registro degli indagati. L'indagine fu poi archiviata, ma adesso è stata riaperta proprio sulla base delle dichiarazioni di Spatuzza e delle ultime precisazioni di Pietro Romeo. "Spatuzza vi ha fatto il nome di Berlusconi, cioè qual è il motivo, il movente suo per fare questi attentati? Ne avete parlato? Giuliano (altro componente del commando stragista ndr) glielo ha detto?" chiedono i magistrati a Romeo. Ed il pentito conferma le precedenti dichiarazioni ed aggiunge: "Ricordo che Spatuzza rispose a Giuliano che il politico era Berlusconi. Non si trattava di una battuta. Stavamo parlando di armi in quel momento e di altri argomenti seri. Giuliano chiese se il politico dietro alle stragi fosse Andreotti o Berlusconi e Spatuzza rispose Berlusconi. La motivazione stragista di Cosa Nostra era quella di far togliere il 41 bis. Non ho mai saputo quali motivazioni ci fossero nella parte politica. Noi eravamo esecutori". The interrogation of Romeo dates last 30 September and had already been heard by the Florentine prosecutors in June of '96. Berlusconi and Dell'Utri were under investigation. The investigation was later archived, but has now been reopened on the basis of the statements of Spatuzza and the further details of Pietro Romeo. The judges ask: "Spatuzza mentioned to you the name of Berlusconi, ie what is the reason, his motive for making these bombings? Did you talk about it? Did Giuliano (another member of the commando stragista- note) tell you that?" And the state witness confirms his previous statements and adds: "I remember Spatuzza replied to Giuliano that the politician was Berlusconi. It was not a joke. We were talking about weapons at that time and other serious topics. Giuliano asked if the politicians behind the massacres was Berlusconi or Andreotti and Spatuzza said Berlusconi. Cosa Nostra motivation for the massacres was to have article 41bis abolished. I never knew what were the politician's reasons. We were executioners.
Pietro Romeo conferma di avere appreso da Spatuzza e dagli altri artificieri della sua cosca che le stragi "venivano fatte per il 41 bis e che c'era un politico di Milano che aveva detto a Giuseppe Graviano di continuare a mettere le bombe. "Giuseppe Graviano - afferma Romeo sempre per averlo appreso dai suoi complici - aveva fatto questi discorsi, che si doveva fare attentati con bombe perché lo aveva detto un politico di farle. Il politico diceva di fare questi attentati a cose di valore storico artistico". E sempre stando a quanto aveva appreso da altri mafiosi e dallo stesso Gaspare Spatuzza, Romeo aggiunge che "era Giuseppe Graviano che andava a trovare il politico con il quale aveva i contatti". Adesso Pietro Romeo e Gaspare Spatuzza saranno interrogati anche dai magistrati delle Procure di Palermo e Caltanissetta che indagano sulle stragi e sulla "trattativa". Spatuzza sarà sentito, per la prima volta, pubblicamente, il 4 dicembre prossimo a Torino nel processo a Marcello Dell'Utri. Pietro Romeo confirmed that Spatuzza told him and other bombers of his squad that the massacres "were being carried out because of article 41bis and that there was a Milan politician who told Giuseppe Graviano to continue to placing bombs. "Giuseppe Graviano - Romeo asserted, always having heard it from his accomplices - had explained several times that the bombings had to be done because a politician told him to do it. The politician told him to attack targets of historical and artistic value." And again according to what he had learned from other mafiosi as well as Gaspare Spatuzza, Romeo adds that "it was Giuseppe Graviano who went to meet the politician with whom he had contact." Pietro Romeo and Gaspare Spatuzza will also be questioned by prosecutors in Palermo and Caltanissetta investigating the massacres and the "negotiation."  Spatuzza will be heard for the first time publicly on  December 4th, in Turin in the trial of Marcello Dell'Utri.

Mafia, perché i pentiti accusano Berlusconi by Attilio Bolzoni and Giuseppe D'Avanzo on November 27, 2009

Salvatore Grigoli, interrogatorio 5 novembre 2009: "Dalle informazioni datemi (...), le stragi erano fatte per costringere lo Stato a scendere a patti (...) Dell'Utri è il nome da me conosciuto (...), quale contatto politico dei Graviano (...) Quello di Dell'Utri, per me, in quel momento era un nome conosciuto ma neppure particolarmente importante. Quel che è certo è [che me ne parlarono] come [del nostro] contatto politico". E' una scena che trova conferme anche in parole già dette, nel tempo. I ricordi di Giuseppe Ciaramitaro li si può scovare in un verbale d'interrogatorio del 23 luglio 1996: "Mi [fu] detto che bisognava portare questo attacco allo Stato e che c'era un politico che indicava gli obiettivi, quando questo politico avrebbe vinto le elezioni, si sarebbe quindi interessato a far abolire il 41 bis (...). Quando Berlusconi [è] stato presidente del Consiglio per la prima volta, nell'organizzazione erano tutti contenti, perché si stava muovendo nel senso desiderato e [si disse] che la proroga del 41 bis era stata solo per 'fintà in modo da eliminarlo del tutto alla scadenza". Salvatore Grigoli, interrogation of November 5, 2009: "From the information given me (...), the massacres were carried out to force the state to come to terms (...) Dell'Utri is the name known to me (...), as the Gravianos' political contact (...) Dell'Utri's name was known at the time but but not particularly important to me. What is certain is [for those who talked to me] he was [our] political contact." It's a scene that is also confirmed in words already said over time. The memories of Giuseppe Ciaramitaro can be found in an interrogation of July 23, 1996: "I [was] told that we had to make this attack against the State and that there was a politician who indicated the targets, when this politician would win elections, he would take interest in abolishing 41bis (...). When Berlusconi [became] president of the Council for the first time, everyone in the organization was happy because things were moving in the desired manner and [it was said] that the extension of 41bis was only a ploy to eliminate it when its term ran out.

DoDo commented

[de Gondi: The four executors of the massacres and bombings all concur that] Dell'Utri and Berlusconi were the ones with whom the mafia negotiated and that Berlusconi and Dell'Utri had conceived the bombings of Italian monuments which caused ten deaths.

I was thinking that even if both would be a high crime, a key difference is whether Berlusconi and Dell'Utri merely suggested targets on request from the mafia for a bombing campaign devised by the Gravianos (or Giovanni Brusca himself), or suggested the bombing campaign to the mafia in the first place. It does seem from the auto-translated quotes that Pietro Romeo is implying the second.

With the caveat that Berlusconi has never been formally accused of being involved in Cosa Nostra's terrorist campaign, I'll speculate on what could be the role dynamics of the actual attacks. Spatuzza did complain with the Gravianos about the bombings in continental Italy, asserting that killing indiscriminately outside mafia territory was not something Cosa Nostra did. It was only following his complaint that Graviano replied that Berlusconi was involved in the bombings, implying that Dell'Utri and Berlusconi may have suggested the attacks on their own initiative. It is not the first time in contemporary Italian history that a faction of the elite conspired in indiscriminate bombings to terrorize and sway public opinion.
Let's look at the various attacks. They can be tentatively organized into three groups:

Attacks within mafia territory. The assassinations of Falcone and Borsellino took place in Palermo. Their deaths served the interests of both the mafia and an elite that colluded with the mafia. Both Falcone and Borsellino had had major successes in contrasting organized crime and unveiling the collusion of sectors of the economic and political elite. It is a judiciary truth that both Berlusconi and Dell'Utri had mutually profitable and long-term economic relations with prominent mafia bosses. These relations changed hands over time through the emergence of new crime figures such as Riina and Provenzano who eliminated the old Palermo mafia, Stefano Bontate most notably. However, Berlusconi and Dell'Utri were not the only figures who could benefit from the assassinations of Falcone and Borsellino. Within a corrupt economic elite they could have assumed a supportive role with a high symbolic impact on all other instances compromised with organized crime. This deviant power base did not have to overexpose itself in the two assassinations. Cosa Nostra had all the reasons to carry out the massacres. Yet at the same time the Mafia had the go ahead and complicity of other forces within the Italian society.  It is suspected, and future developments will confirm or disprove it, that forces outside Cosa Nostra even played a logistic role.

Attacks outside Mafia territory against human targets that represent the law and civic society. The failed attack against the Olimpic stadium and against the TV host Maurizio Costanzo are not beyond the logic of mafia reprisals under the reign of Riina and Provenzano. The bombing of a Carabinieri muster point during a soccer match would certainly bring Beirut to mind. Both Costanzo and the police were considered enemies. However, what distinguishes the two bombing plots is the intent to do something unprecedented, indiscriminate and spectacular.

Attacks outside Mafia territory against monuments. The attacks against the Uffizi galleries in Florence, in Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano, against the Church San Giorgio al Velabro in Rome and against the Pavilion of Contemporary Art in Milan are foreign to the traditional code of Cosa Nostra. Ten people died and dozens were injured. This cannot exclude that Riina may have conceived it or someone close to him outside the organization may have suggested it. A state witness declared in 1994 that Riina had organized a summit in which he launched the idea of taking the war against the State to the mainland. Both Riina and Provenzano were known for their innovative ruthlessness and their long-term presence in the Milan hinterland under the orders of Luciano Liggio in the 60's and 70's. However, it remains obscure why Cosa Nostra chose to attack Italy's cultural heritage. All de relato testimony points to Dell'Utri.

Berlusconi's grave attack at the EPP Congress has brought about a rift within the Italian state precisely on the eve of the Gravianos hearing. Berlusconi's appeal to populism at the Congress received a strong and immediate institutional reaction last night by the President of the Republic and Gianfranco Fini, president of the House of Deputies. Berlusconi replied immediately that he couldn't care less and wants to finish "the hypocrisy." It is likely that his attacks will dominate the news today drowning out the Palermo hearing. If the Gravianos decide to talk, it will be presented as part of a leftist judiciary conspiracy to oust Berlusconi from power.

Elections are not far away. The troops are being counted and armed. Italy is in a state of exception while the audience busies itself with Yuletide shopping.

I'll update this as the news comes in today.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Dec 11th, 2009 at 04:06:15 AM EST
11:50 local time

Filippo Graviano has just declared, "I intend to answer [questions by the judges, the PM and the defense] within the limits of my possibilities."

Filippo Graviano is testifying from maximum security prison in Parma by videoconference. Neither he nor his brother, Giuseppe, are present in the courtroom for security reasons.

Marcello Dell'Utri arrived punctually this morning at 10:00. He sought to have the hearing postponed. The court ruled against it.

For anyone who understands Italian, La Repubblica publishes an online direct which can be adjourned by renewing the page.  

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Dec 11th, 2009 at 06:11:35 AM EST
Filippo Graviano has denied ever having known Dell'Utri either directly or indirectly. He has also denied having made the statements attributed to him by Spatuzza.

His brother, Giuseppe, has chosen not to respond to questioning.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Dec 11th, 2009 at 06:56:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Men of honour", aren't they...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 11th, 2009 at 07:00:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Berlusconi would call them heros, like Vittorio Mangano, who died without confessing his collusion with Dell'Utri and Berlusconi despite the pressure of evil communist judges.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Dec 11th, 2009 at 07:41:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Giuseppe Graviano declared that he has sent a written memorial to the court and cannot answer questions because of his present state of health.

Cosimo Lo Nigro, the other mafia boss condemned for his involvement in the bombings and massacres, declared that he will answer questions from the court. He denies ever having met or known the Gravianos before his imprisonment. He denies that he participated in a summit to organize the attack against the Olimpic Stadium in Rome together with Spatuzza and Giuseppe Graviano.

Berlusconi has declared that it's all a comedy. He again attacked the President of the Republic this morning.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Dec 11th, 2009 at 07:39:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One question, What is article 41bis?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Dec 11th, 2009 at 06:50:58 AM EST
It's a maximum security provision designed to prevent contact between mafia bosses and the outside world. Mafia bosses continued to run business through many subterfuges from prison before article 41bis.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Dec 11th, 2009 at 06:54:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Dec 11th, 2009 at 07:07:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Law on strict isolation conditions for imprisoned mafia bosses, aimed to prevent them from giving orders from behind bars.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Dec 11th, 2009 at 06:55:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The assassinations of Falcone and Borsellino took place in Palermo. Their deaths served the interests of both the mafia and an elite that colluded with the mafia. Both Falcone and Borsellino had had major successes in contrasting organized crime and unveiling the collusion of sectors of the economic and political elite. ... However, Berlusconi and Dell'Utri were not the only figures who could benefit from the assassinations of Falcone and Borsellino.

However, Paolo Borsellino - Wikipedia

In his last video interview, given on May 21, 1992 to Jean Pierre Moscardo and Fabrizio Calvi, Borsellino spoke about the possible link between Cosa Nostra's mafiosi and rich Italian businessmen such as future Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.[4] The interview received surprisingly little coverage on Italian television (half of which was owned by Berlusconi); as of 2007, it has been aired on only one occasion, and that by a satellite channel RaiNews 24 in 2000, in an abridged version which is a mere 30 minutes long (it is 50 minutes long in its original form).

This cannot exclude that Riina may have conceived it or someone close to him outside the organization may have suggested it. A state witness declared in 1994 that Riina had organized a summit in which he launched the idea of taking the war against the State to the mainland.

This cannot exclude that Riina may have conceived it or someone close to him outside the organization may have suggested it. A state witness declared in 1994 that Riina had organized a summit in which he launched the idea of taking the war against the State to the mainland.

What about Giovanni Brusca? I seem to remember from articles at the time of his arrest that he was credited with the idea, too.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Dec 11th, 2009 at 06:54:22 AM EST
Giovanni Brusca was a major boss who was part of the commando that slaughtered Giovanni Falcone, his wife, Francesca Morvillo, and their escort (Antonio Montinari, Vito Schifani and Rocco Di Cillo.) He did not participate in the operation to kill Borsellino but declared that he knew about it.

For ambitious operations killers are chosen from various mandamenti. There is always a turnover to avoid burnouts (I don't recall the actual mafia term for the state of madness that afflicts killers. The mafia eliminates their killers that go over the edge- an occupational hazard.) Often the operation is divided into teams that have specific actions to carry out without knowing the identity of members of the other teams.

Spatuzza seems to be an exception, as he participated in all the major continental terrorist actions. He was the key go-between between his squads and the Gravianos.

Brusca became a state witness. His testimony led to the solution of many Mafia mysteries.

Brusca was the man who killed a collaborator's eight-year-old son, Giuseppe Di Matteo. The past week Spatuzza has been falsely branded as the man who materially committed that murder. He did participate in the kidnapping but turned the kid over to the second team whose identities he did not know at the time.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Dec 11th, 2009 at 01:03:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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