OPERATION “BIG BANG” AND INVESTIGATIONS INTO THE MASSACRE OF CAPACI
On 23rd May 1992, at 17 h 56’ 48’’: “In a tunnel below the lane on the mountain side of the Punta Raisi – Palermo highway section, near Capaci, a huge quantity of explosive material was set off, by means of a remote control device, while the armoured cars convoy used by Giovanni FALCONE and his escort was passing by. This attack caused the death of Giovanni FALCONE, Director General of Criminal Affairs at the Ministry of Justice, his wife Francesca MORVILLO, a Magistrate serving at the judicial office within the Court of Appeal of Palermo District, and the escort agents Antonio MONTINARO, Rocco DI CILLO, Vito SCHIFANI … “(Judgment of the Court of Assize of Caltanissetta, 09/26/1997).
In 1993, the Direzione Investigativa Antimafia (DIA), thanks to the complex investigative activity following the attack, corroborated by the statements of collaborators of justice, was able to detect the flat that the mafia members GIOÈ Antonino and LA BARBERA Gioacchino had used as a “den” to hide in Palermo, via Ughetti. The consequent wiretapping allowed the investigators to acquire strongly circumstantial evidence about the Capaci massacre, defined by the mafia members as the “attentatuni” (the big attack).
The investigations and the statements of other collaborators of justice, among whom DI MATTEO Mario Santo, allowed the prosecuting authorities to identify the perpetrators of the attack, namely LA BARBERA Gioacchino, GIOE’ Antonino, BRUSCA Giovanni, BAGARELLA Leoluca, GANCI Calogero, AGRIGENTO Giuseppe, RAMPULLA Pietro, and DI MATTEO himself. GANCI Calogero, who had the task to watch the garage where the armoured car used by the magistrate was kept, informed the others about the arrival of Falcone in Palermo. Then, LA BARBERA Gioacchino started to follow the armoured cars convoy from Punta Raisi airport in order to inform GIOE’ Antonino of its movement. In the meantime, GIOE’ was lurking on a hill near Capaci together with BRUSCA Giovanni. The latter physically activated the remote control that detonated the bomb, positioned under the Punta Raisi-Palermo motorway section on which the magistrate and the escort were travelling.
On 11th November 1993, at the end of the investigative activity, the Preliminary Investigations Magistrate at Caltanissetta Court, upon request of the local District Prosecutor’s Office, issued a pre-trial detention order against 18 persons held responsible, in various capacities, for such heinous crime.
In the following years, the activities of the DIA allowed the competent Judicial Authorities to adopt further measures against the instigators and perpetrators of the massacre, as well as to ascertain other crimes that made it possible to arrest over 200 members of Cosa Nostra.
In September 1997, thanks to the evidence gathered by DIA investigators, the Assize Court of Caltanissetta issued 24 life sentences and 7 custodial sentences; 2 decisions not to prosecute due to the culprit’s death; 8 acquittal sentences.
In May 2002, the Court of Cassation confirmed the life sentence for many of the culprits, among whom RIINA Salvatore, BAGARELLA Leoluca, GANCI Raffaele, GANCI Domenico, LA BARBERA Michelangelo, RAMPULLA Pietro, PROVENZANO Bernardo.