Unrepentant mobster interviewed on state TV sparks outrage in Italy

Thu Apr 7, 2016 8:09am EDT
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By Steve Scherer

ROME (Reuters) - A convicted mobster whose father was the bloodiest of all Sicilian mafia bosses has sparked outrage in Italy by giving an interview to RAI state television in which he described his childhood as "nice" and refused to denounce the mob.

Giuseppe Salvatore Riina has written a book called "Riina Family Life" about growing up as the son of Italy's most wanted man, Salvatore "Toto" Riina, and appeared late on Wednesday on RAI's premier talkshow to promote his memoirs.

Not once during the interview did Riina, one of four children, criticize his father, and he refused to acknowledge the existence of the mafia, saying cryptically when asked to define it: "It could be everything or it could be nothing".

Italian politicians denounced RAI for allowing the interview to be aired and RAI's top managers have been summoned to appear before parliament's anti-mafia committee on Thursday.

Riina's 85-year-old father, nicknamed "the Beast", was arrested in 1993 and is serving multiple life sentences for murder, including for ordering the 1992 assassinations of anti-mafia magistrates Giovanni Falconi and Paolo Borsellino.

Investigators estimate that more than 1,000 people were killed in a mafia war in the early 1980s in which the elder Riina emerged as the supreme leader of Cosa Nostra.

His son was also subsequently convicted of mafia membership and sentenced to nearly nine years in prison. He is currently on parole.

During the half-hour pre-recorded interview, Riina said he had been home schooled and that he lied about his identity as a child to protect his father, who lived under an assumed name and told neighbors he worked as a surveyor.   Continued...

Giuseppe Salvatore Riina (L), the son of the most feared Sicilian Mafia boss, leaves a prison in Sulmona, central Italy, in a February 28, 2008 file photo.  REUTERS/Claudio Lattanzio/Files