At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

4 January 2019

Giuseppe ‘Pino’ Greco - Mafia executioner

Notorious hitman thought to have committed at least 80 murders


Giuseppe 'Pino' Greco was one of the Sicilian Mafia's most notorious killers
Giuseppe 'Pino' Greco was one of the
Sicilian Mafia's most notorious killers
The notorious Mafia hitman Giuseppe Greco, who was convicted posthumously on 58 counts of murder but whose victims possibly ran into hundreds, was born on this day in 1952 in Ciaculli, a town on the outskirts of Palermo in Sicily.

More often known as ‘Pino’, or by his nickname Scarpuzzedda - meaning ‘little shoe’ - Greco is considered one of the most prolific killers in the history of organised crime.

The nephew of Michele Greco, who lived on an estate just outside Ciaculli and rose to be head of the Sicilian Mafia Commission - a body set up to settle disputes between rival clans - Pino Greco is generally accepted to have been responsible for 80 deaths, although some students of Cosa Nostra history believe he could have committed more than 300 killings.

Most of Greco’s victims were fellow criminals, the majority of them killed during the Second Mafia War, which began in 1978 and intensified between 1981 and 1983 with more than 1,000 homicides, as rival clans fought each other and against the state, with judges, prosecutors and politicians prominent in the fight against organised crime themselves becoming targets.

Greco, in fact, was convicted at the so-called Maxi Trial in the late 1980s of the murder of General Carlo Alberto dalla Chiesa, Italy’s counter-terrorism chief, who was shot to death in his car in Palermo in 1982 after being sent to Sicily with a brief to end the conflict.

General Carlo Alberto dalla was Greco's most high-profile victim among the scores of murders he committed
General Carlo Alberto dalla was Greco's most high-profile
victim among the scores of murders he committed
In 1983, also in Palermo, he planted and detonated the car bomb that killed magistrate Rocco Chinnici, his two carabinieri escorts and the porter of the building where Chinnici lived.

As a young man, Greco was academically bright, excelling in the study of Latin and Greek, but his family background meant that his life in crime was effectively preordained. His father was also a contract killer, whose nickname Scarpa - ‘shoe’ - gave rise to Giuseppe’s nom de guerre.

The exact point at which he became part of the Mafia is not known but by 1979 he was sitting alongside his uncle, Michele, on the Commission, as the Ciaculli clans formed a powerful alliance with the Corleonesi, led by Salvatore 'Toto' Riina and Bernardo Provenzano.

It was on behalf of Riina and Provenzano, who instigated the internecine conflict that was to prove so deadly, that Pino carried out his reign of terror, working closely in particular with Filippo Marchese, a notorious Corleonesi hitman who ran the so-called Room of Death, an apartment in Palermo where victims would be taken to meet their fate.

Giuseppe Lucchese, who for a  time was Greco's partner in crime
Giuseppe Lucchese, who for a
time was Greco's partner in crime
Such was the nature of Greco’s work, however, that within days of organising with Marchese a massacre of nine gangsters invited to a barbecue at his uncle’s estate, Greco was ordered by Riina to kill Marchese, who was perceived as becoming too powerful.

Unfortunately for Greco, that fate would soon enough be his own, Riina’s craving for ultimate power brooking no sentiment. Greco's ‘mistake’ was to assume control of the Ciaculli mob on behalf of his uncle, who was in hiding.

Riina decided he had to reduce the strength of the Ciaculli, who lost eight members in a massacre in the Piazza Scaffa in central Palermo, and had decided that Greco had to go even as his erstwhile chief henchman was arranging the killing of another identified ‘enemy’ in police investigator Antonino Cassarà.

In September 1985, Greco invited two supposed friends, Vincenzo Puccio and Giuseppe Lucchese, into his villa outside Bagheria, about 20km (12 miles) east of Palermo, only for the pair to draw their weapons and shoot him dead. His body was never found and his death not confirmed until 1989 by an informant, Francesco Marino Mannoia, whose brother had also been in Greco’s house at the time of the killing.

By that time, the Maxi Trial, the extraordinary event spanning six years that saw the conviction of 360 defendants following the investigations led by Paolo Borsellino and Giovanni Falcone, had handed Greco a life sentence in absentia, along with Marchese, Riina and Provenzano among others.

The sandy beach at Mondello, the pretty resort just along the coast from Palermo
The sandy beach at Mondello, the pretty resort just
along the coast from Palermo
Travel tip:

Palermo has plenty of attractions in the heart of the city, but there are also some good beaches nearby, the closest of which is at Mondello, about 10km (6 miles) out of town to the north. The former fishing village has a nice sweeping bay enclosing turquoise water and a beach of fine sand and a promenade lined with beautiful villas, many built in Liberty style at the start of the 20th century as summer retreats for the wealthier residents of the city.  The nature reserve of Capo Gallo, with its white rocks and clear water, is within walking distance of Mondello.

Palermo hotels from Hotels.com

The Villa Palagonia in Bagheria reflected the town's wealth in the early 18th century
The Villa Palagonia in Bagheria reflected the town's
wealth in the early 18th century
Travel tip:

Bagheria, a town of around 55,000 inhabitants, became prosperous under Savoyard and Habsburg rule in the early 18th century, when the first of many grand villas were built in the town.  The two most striking baroque residences, Villa Valguarnera and Villa Palagonia, were designed by the architect Tommaso Maria Napoli and have echoes of architecture in Rome and Vienna, where he had worked previously.  Villa Palagonia is renowned for its complex external staircase, curved façades, and marble.  The town is the home of the film director Giuseppe Tornatore, most famous for Cinema Paradiso, and some of the location shooting took place there.

Stay in Bagheria with TripAdvisor

More reading:

How Bernardo Provenzano evaded the police for 43 years

Giovanni Falcone's lifelong crusade against the Mafia

Tommaso Buscetta, the Mafia 'pentito' who put hundreds behind bars

Also on this day:

1710: The birth of 'opera buffa' composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi

1881: The birth of Gaetano Merola, founder of the San Francisco Opera

1975: The death of Carlo Levi, author of Christ Stopped at Eboli


Home








No comments:

Post a Comment