by Carl Russo
On the morning of May 5, 1971, at headquarters in Palermo, the police received an anonymous call: “A shooting has happened in Via dei Cipressi. Maybe two are dead.”
Within minutes, the Flying Squad pulled into the cypress-lined road leading to the Cemetery of the Cappuccini. A state car blocked the entrance to the necropolis, pockmarked with bullet holes. Two bodies were pulled out and rushed to the hospital, but it was too late. When the frightful news spread that Pietro Scaglione, Palermo's chief public prosecutor, was killed along with his driver, many observers confirmed their suspicion that he was connected to the mob. At the time, the Mafia was only murdering 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—deliberately, some said—and often had to be goaded into prosecuting a case.