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Entries in Angelo Provenzano (3)


Born to Run: Angelo Provenzano’s Mafia Burlesque

Despite an uproar from Mafia victims, the godfather’s son still entertains tourists in Sicily

by Carl Russo

Bernardo ProvenzanoNobody envies Angelo Provenzano his childhood. As the son of a fugitive boss—the boss of Cosa Nostra from the late 1990s to the mid-aughts—the boy suffered a bizarre and paranoid upbringing. The Provenzanos were kept on the run for the first sixteen years of his life. “I was born and brought up in captivity,” he said in later years. Things barely improved when his mother took Angelo and younger brother Francesco Paolo, in 1992, to live in the family’s hometown of Corleone. The boys had to run a gauntlet of paparazzi on their first day of high school. Police raided their home at all hours in hopes of catching their father on a secret visit.

During those years, investigators had no idea that Bernardo “Binnu the Tractor” Provenzano was holed up in a tiny shack on the mountain that overlooks Corleone, the Mafia city of fact and fiction. Binnu wanted his common-law wife Saveria Benedetto Palazzolo to raise their sons openly, giving them a normal life and a proper education, and steering them clear of the illicit career path of most Mafia sons. But constant police surveillance, intense family secrecy, and a strained relationship with their fugitive father took a toll on the boys. Little Francesco Paolo was especially resentful of Binnu’s absence. After high school, their job prospects were blocked wherever their father’s reputation had preceded them.

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Deal Me In

by Carl Russo

Italy’s trial of the century will probably last for another century. But, unlike past Mafia trials that prosecuted hundreds of mobsters at the same time, this one is down to only ten defendants. And they're not only mafiosi but also high-placed public officials who are being charged.

Nicola MancinoThe crime? Brokering a secret deal in the early 1990s: in exchange for lighter punishments for its members, the Mafia would stop killing so many of those high-placed public officials. You can read the details of the historic trial—the so-called Trattativa (Negotiation)—here.

This video was shot outside the Palermo courtroom hosting the trial. Nicola Mancino, Italy's Interior Minister during the years of the alleged Trattatvia, is jeered by protestors shouting, "Shame! Shame!"

Mancino is accused of hiding evidence of the covert talks from prosecutors. Earlier, on the stand, he bristled at appearing "in the same trial as the Mafia," i.e., in the company of reviled godfathers like Totò Riina and Bernardo Provenzano. Mancino wants to star in his own trial, maybe?

Those red books being waved by the demonstrators represent Judge Paolo Borsellino's missing journal, swiped from the wreckage of his assassination site twenty years ago.

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Dirty Laundry

by Bluto Ray

Before April 11, 2006, many non-Italians thought that Corleone was a fictitious Sicilian town from books and movies. That day’s top news flash, “Mafia Godfather Captured,” beamed worldwide, accompanied by the image of a pale old man smiling serenely from the center of a moving storm of armed cops. Video footage showed an impromptu crowd gathered at the gates of the police station to curse the silent figure as he was rushed inside. Bernardo Provenzano, the phantom of Corleone, was apprehended in the last place anyone expected to find him: his home town.

Bernardo ProvenzanoThe police nearly gave him up for dead after his common-law wife, Saveria Benedetta Palazzolo, came out of hiding in 1992 to take up residency in Corleone. Despite the media-fueled scandal that followed, police considered her unusual move as logical for a Mafia widow, especially one with two sons--Angelo, sixteen, and Paolo, nine--in need of schooling. Still, the police kept a constant eye and ear on the three newcomers, frequently rattling them with overnight raids. Saveria and her brood survived numerous humiliations with the support of Provenzano’s relatives in town.

That era of Mafia history is defined by its apocalyptic war on the Italian state. The two fugitives from Corleone, capomafia Totò Riina and his second in command, Provenzano, had toppled the Palermo bosses to take over the Cosa Nostra. Riina, with his scorched earth policy--culminating in the assassinations of top anti-Mafia prosecutors Falcone and Borsellino--had gone too far by even Mafia standards. When police picked him up in early 1993 (“Mafia Godfather Captured”), Provenzano took the top spot in the organization and steered it to calmer waters. Two high-profile informants claimed that he had betrayed the wild Riina to police.

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