The Offer Antonio Ingroia Cannot Refuse

Those of you who read Italy Chronicles from outside of Italy have probably never heard of the Italian magistrate Antonio Ingroia.  If this is the case, you will not have heard Ingroia has recently been made an offer he cannot refuse.

In Italy though, and especially in Palermo, Sicily, Antonio Ingroia is quite well known and well regarded too.  At least one of his colleagues, Vittorio Teresi, regards Ingroia as a consummate professional and champion of honesty who believes all, with no exceptions, are equal in the eyes of the law.

Ingroia is in the same league as Italy’s exceptionally brave mafia battling magistrates Giovanni Falcone & Paolo Borsellino, both of whom were brutally murdered.  It is still not clear who killed Falcone & Borsellino but many in Italy suspect their untimely demise may have been the result of covert collaboration between Italian politicians and organised crime.  Whether this was the case is part of what Antonio Ingroia, who, incidentally worked as part of the same team led by Falcone and Borsellino, is trying to establish now.

Italy’s Mafia-State Pact

Ingroia, you see, is presiding over investigations into a long suspected mafia-state pact.  The killings of Falcone and Borsellino may have been part of the negotiaion process with their killings sending a message that unless the mafia got its way, further murders would have taken place.

Alternatively, Falcone and Borsellino may have been eliminated because they were very close to discovering the truth.  The name of one Silvio Berlusconi cropped up in Borsellino’s investigations, by the way.   Borsellino suspected there were links between then businessman, now ex-prime minister of Italy, Berlusconi and the Sicilian cosa nostra mafia.  Borsellino did not live long enough to establish whether the links he suspected existed.

As you may have noticed, the actual motives for the mafia-state pact are not that clear.  One explanation for the negotiations is that the mafia said it would end massacres both in Sicily and on the Italian mainland if its conditions were met.  Covering up of illicit goings on within Italy’s halls of power certainly would have been another good reason for some members of Italy’s government to agree to the mafia’s terms.  It is possible that the mafia was blackmailing some political bigwigs.

Whatever the reasons, it is strongly suspected that Italy’s state did attempt to negotiate a kind of treaty, known as the ‘papello‘.  From what I’ve read about the so-called ‘papello’ pact on the i-Italy website, the terms would have made life for Italy’s organised criminals significantly easier.

The Terms of the Papello Pact

It is rumoured that the Sicilian mafia wanted Italy’s government to end the harsh prison regime certain convicted mafia criminals are subjected to as set out by Article 41 bis.   As part of the papello pact, the mafia wanted its members to be imprisoned near their homes and for them to be allowed to receive uncensored mail from their families.  Had such concessions been granted, running their criminal empires from behind prison walls would have been much easier for imprisoned mafia bosses.   Fortunately for Italy, concessions reducing Article 41 bis rules were never granted.   That mafia leaders wanted Article 41 bis changed suggests that the prison regime worked.

Antonio Ingroia has been making progress into just what went on at the time the supposed mafia-state negotiations took place and the names of members of Italy’s government at the time and even some senior police officers have started to come to light.  Ingroia suspects these people had been working with the mafia to reach some kind of agreement.  The aforementioned ‘papello’ could have been the result.

The Murky Corners of Italy’s Past

Ingroia is delving into very murky corners of Italy’s past and it appears his investigations starting to bear fruit.  For the moment though, nobody has been convicted of anything.  If someone ever is, and this is a big if in Italy, the repercussions could inflict major damage on existing political parties.  Many politicians still active today were around at the time of the suspected mafia-state negotiations.  Italy’s politicians have inordinately long shelf-lives.  At present Italy’s political establishment is not in the greatest of health, it has to be said.  Revelations regarding links to organized crime would conceivably lead to the extinction of some of Italy’s political parties as well as bringing the careers of certain politicians to an abrupt end.

Ingroia Might Rock Boats to Disintegration

That Ingroia might rock certain boats to disintegration is worrying some so much that attempts have been made to discredit the magistrate.  He has faced personal attacks and accusations he is using the law for political ends.  Ingroia’s attackers quietly forget the evidence he has amassed to support his cases.  Luckily, Ingroia is made of stern stuff, coming, as he does, from the same courageous mold which created Falconi and Borsellino – two incredibly brave men who were assisted by other equally brave men and women.  Falconi and Borsellino worked to try to show the mafia for what it truly was despite knowing full well that what they were doing was likely to kill them.  It did.

That he could meet same fate as Falconi and Borsellino is probably something Antonio Ingroia is acutely aware of.  Dark forces could, potentially, order his termination. Or, they could transfer him.  How about packing him off somewhere a long, long way away from Italy, somewhere like Guatemala, maybe?

Move Antonio Ingroia

In actual fact this is exactly what might happen.  Moves are afoot to send Antonio Ingroia to Guatemala.  So far, Ingroia does not appear to have accepted this posting, which is genuninely interesting and must be tempting him.

The question is, what will happen to Ingroia if he should refuse the transfer?  Will he end up being blown up like his late colleagues Falcone and Borsellino?

If Ingroia does move, what will happen to the mafia-state pact investigations?  Another very good question.  Should Ingroia go, his investigations may well be swept under the carpet in the same way as other Italian mysteries such as the Piazza Fontana and Bologna train station bombings, amongst plenty of others.  The Italian ‘carpet’ is bulging more and more with every day which passes.

Italy will lose out if Ingroia goes to Guatemala.  In fact, it is not only Italy which stands to lose out if he leaves.

Why Should the Rest of the World Care?

What has Italy’s mafia-state affair got to do with the rest of the world?  Quite a lot actually.  If Ingroia does not conclude his investigations, Italy may well continue to be run by the incapable – people who really have no interest in doing anything for Italy, especially if they are on the payroll of the mafia.

If the rot is not removed by people like Ingroia, investors will, rightly, continue to distrust the ability of Italy’s political establishment to run Italy.  This could result in further damaging downgrades by Moody’s and the like.  While Italy can service astronomic interests levels on its public debt maintenance payments for a while, it cannot do it forever and when it runs out of cash, the collapse of the Eurozone may not be far behind.  The repercussions of such a collapse may effect economies at a global level.

By cutting out the rot, Ingroia will boost Italy’s credibility, and help prevent the start of a potentially terrifying chain reaction.  And a rot-free Italy is much more likely to attract foreign direct investment.

Antonio Ingroia should enjoy the full support, and protection, of the very highest echelons of Italy’s government.  Instead, he’s being intimidated, persecuted and, to cap it all, Ingroia’s being made a Godfather-like offer he cannot refuse.  Such is Italy.

Italian readers can visit Wikipedia to find out more about Antonio Ingroia.

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Photo of Lago de Atitlán Lake Atitlan Guatemala 2009 panorama by chensiyuan

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