by Bluto Ray
On the morning of May 5, 1971, the Mafia called police headquarters in Palermo. “A shooting has happened in Via dei Cipressi,” said an anonymous voice. “Maybe two are dead.”
Within minutes the Flying Squad pulled into the cypress-lined road that leads to the Cappuccini cemetery. There, agents found an official state car blocking the entrance to the necropolis. Two bullet-riddled bodies were pulled out and rushed to the hospital, but it was too late. When the shocking news spread that the city’s Chief Public Prosecutor, Pietro Scaglione, was killed along with his driver, many observers felt confirmed in their suspicion that the city’s highest magistrate was mafioso. After all, they reasoned, the Mafia only murders its own.
Pietro Scaglione’s forty-three-year career spanned the evolution of the Cosa Nostra from rural phenomenon to international menace. Rising through the judicial ranks to take the top post at the Palace of Justice in 1962, he waded through the murky waters of Sicilian conspiracies: super-bandit Salvatore Giuliano’s involvement in the Portella della Ginestra massacre of 1947, the police slaughter of Ciaculli in 1963. But Judge Scaglione tended to sit on his findings--some said deliberately--and often needed to be goaded into prosecuting a case.