State-Mafia hearings postponed in Palermo until mid-November

Former politicians face charges for 'deal-making with Mafia'

State-Mafia hearings postponed in Palermo until mid-November

Palermo, October 29 - Highly anticipated hearings into alleged negotiations between Italian State officials and the Mafia were adjourned Monday until mid-November. Preliminary hearings for 12 defendants, which will be held behind closed doors despite strong public interest, were postponed to November 15 to deal with several procedural requests including a defence demand for time to review new documents filed by the prosecution. The complex case stems from an investigation by Antonio Ingroia, a deputy chief prosecutor in Palermo, into suspicions that high-ranking politicians and police negotiated with Cosa Nostra to try to stop a series of bomb attacks that claimed the lives of anti-mafia judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino in 1992. Charges against Mafia chieftains range from violence or threats to the political body of the State to mafia association. Ingroia, who leaves soon for a United Nations assignment in Guatemala, expressed strong feelings as he entered the courtroom Monday morning. "I feel a great emotion: this may be my last hearing as a prosecutor in Palermo". Ingroia added that he would continue to follow the case, which he said will open the truth into what has been "one of the darkest episodes of recent history," for Italy. Salvatore Borsellino, brother of murdered magistrate Paolo Borsellino, said he was confident that the hearings will eventually uncover the full story of what went on during this period. "I believe that together we will be able to...arrive at the truth", he said outside the hearings. Among the 12 defendants are former politicians, including former Senate speaker and interior minister Nicola Mancino; former cabinet minister Calogero Mannino; Massimo Ciancimino, the son of late Mafia-linked Palermo mayor Vito Ciancimino; and Mafia bosses Toto' Riina, Giovanni Brusca, Nino Cina, Leoluca Bagarella and Bernardo Provenzano. As well, top current or former police officers Mario Mori, Giuseppe De Donno and Antonio Subranni, and Senator and former Berlusconi aide Marcello Dell'Utri are all defendants. The probe recently drew the intervention of President Giorgio Napolitano over concerns that Palermo prosecutors had surpassed their powers by wiretapping conversations between the head of state's legal advisor and former Senate speaker Mancino. The prosecutors had allegedly failed to comply with the legal obligation to immediately destroy the recordings. photo: Falcone (left) and Borsellino

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