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NEWS     11-8-99
Robby Grondelle, Crime JournalistCrime Journalist -Robby Grondelle

Rob Grondelle, age 35, married (this year) to Pamela (no, not the famous one) living in Utrecht, The Netherlands,Europe. Work for pay-roll administration at a big transport comp. Intrested in the Mob since 1980. Likes 50 ties music, clothing, cars etc. Almost since the start of Rick and Thom's website, a visitor on a daily basis. Now writing for the European Section. Email paro.grondelle@planet.nl


Old Sicilian verse.

The True Man of Honor
By Robby Grondelle
Special Thanks


Buscetta said nothing during one of the first interviews between him and Giovanni Falcone. At one point he said that he was out of sigarettes. Falcone gave to him his own pack of sigarettes, wich already had been used. Buscetta accepted this. During the next interview he said to Falcone, that the sigarette question was a test. I have accepted the sigarettes, because it was a used pack. If it were a new pack I would never have taken it, because that would have been a move to humiliate me.

Words of a man of honor, but yet he was busy betraying the law of ŒOmerta˛ of La Cosa Nostra, or Mafia if you will. In his own mind it was Toto Riina, the last Capo di tutti Capi, who betrayed the Mafia and not him. Toto Riina was hiding in Sicily at that time.

A true man of honor? Well, one of the two must be.

But who?


After 24 years of hiding a little man appeared on TV in Italy. A chubby little man cuffed and behind bars. In 1994 a wave of optimism swept through the streets and mountains of Sicily, until that day they saw Salvatore ŗToto˛ Riina on TV. A new premier of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, took away the soldiers from Sicily, who were there to hunt and arrest Mafiosi after the bombing of Borsellino and Falcone.

During this, in 1993, the Mafia bosses came out of hiding. Like Leolucca Bagarella, Bernardo Provenzano capošs from the feared Corleone Family, the Graviano brothers and ofcourse Toto Riina himself. The took on a new offensive: bombs in Rome, Florence, Milaan. People died. The Mafia was alive again.

Then Riina spoke. The simple peassant from a viilage called Corleone, one hour drive from Palermo. He smiled when they took him in, in the spring of 1994, to the strictly guarded cage in the courthouse of the Rebibbia prison in Rome. He even gave compliments to the ones who arrested him.

He kept on smiling when the newsreporters came to the cage and took pictures of him. La Belve, the beast, stood there like he couldnšt give a damn.

And the beast spoke like a punished child. He did not say much, a few words with no importance. But the same words exploded in the faces of the Sicilians.

Riina said: That thing with the pentiti (informers) is rubbish. They are liars. They are the invention of our enemy, the Communists.

He did said this for a reason. All Mafiosi do. They say little, but it means alot. There was a message in those words. He said in fact this: Itšs been enough.We have new friends, who will replace the old ones. Their enemies are our enemies. With friends he meant the political connections. The old ones did not worked any more for them. The new ones did. The enemy are the Communists. Smash the Communists! They were people like Pino Arlacchi, Luciano Violante and Giancarlo Caselli to name but a few, who fought against the Mafia in one way or another.

Smash them! And it happend.

Days of terror against left wing politicians began. Cars of Mayors where put on fire, union officials were threatend, a member of a city council was blown to tiny bits. In Corleone a head of a calf was found, on the doorstep of the Mayoršs house. The Mafia was wounded, but alive. That was Riinašs Mafia. When a woman walked behind the hearse of her husband, a reporter asked her who was murderd. She said: Why? Is there anyone dead?

That kind of power he had outside the Mafia. Inside the Mafia was even worse.

Itšs not much better even today, with Riina behind bars for the rest of his life.


After the first Great Mafia War, Toto Riina, Stefano Bontate and Geatano Badalamenti were the only members of the Cupola, the Commission. A triumvate in 1969. When the war broke out, the members of the Cupola and the bosses decided to take down the Cupola, because of all the heat going on, but in 1969 the heat was gone.

Riina was the replacement of Luciano Leggio who was the head of the Corlenonesi and was sick and hiding. In 1972, when Bontate and Badalamenti were arrested, Riina went after more power. When B & B came out of prison, they were angry with Riina, for what he had done behind their backs. Leggio came to the rescue and ended the Truimvate and put the old Cupola inplace like before the war. Badalamenti was head of this new Cupola. Leggio himself was arrested in 1974, and would die in prison while painting pictures. Riina again took his place and was soon up to his old tricks. The other members of the Cupola saw this, but did nothing. Well, not all. Stefano Bontate, a well liked old time Mafioso, a man of honor, was killed by Riina in 1981. This was the start of the Second Great Mafia war, which lasted till 1984. Riina was a succses in murdering his rivals, by keeping his membership of the Mafia a secret, for the ones who did not now him.

Even his soldiers were not know to the rest of the Mafia, this agianst Mafia rules.

Badalamenti complained about this, and was simply repleaced as head of the Cupola by Michele Greco, with compliments of Riina. Riina was more into drugs and undermind the trational rules of the Mafia. He just turned them around, in his own favour. Cosa Nostra became Cosa Sua, His Thing.

Hundreds of Mafiosi died. Most of the Bontate Family were wiped out. When the new boss of that Family said to his soldiers, come out of hiding and go to our meeting and everthing will become clear, some did and others did not. Those who went, were never seen again. Also from the other losing faction Familyšs were Mafiosi missing, like the Badalamenti, Inzerillo and ofcourse Buscetta.

But not only Mafiosi died, oh no. Women, their childeren, cousins, friends and even grandparents were killed, all who befriended the losing faction of the Mafia.

Not even speaking of all the victims of the goverment, wich is even a bigger story by it self.

So, Toto Riina, are you truly a man of honor?


Tommaso ŒMasimoš Buscetta. He sat down with Giovanni Falcone in 1984. Most of his Family and other Mafia friends were murderd or missing. Even sons and cousins were dead. Masimo was the boss of the Porta Nuova Family from Palermo. Now he was a window in which Falcone could take a peek into the Mafia. But more than a peek, it did not become. He told Falcone not everthing he knew. Sure, he told about the Mafia, the structure, history who was who, about himself in the Mafia. He did not tell about the political connections, or about the herion shipments he controlled. He had a reason not to. His prime targets were Toto Riina and his new Mafia. It was Riina who betrayed the Mafia, by pissing on the rules. He, Buscetta, was a true man of honor. The old Palermo bosses once looked down on bosses from outside Palermo, like Corleone. They were peasents. I quess not any more....

Masimo fled away from Sicily after or during the first war. He went to Brazil. There was a large population of Italians in which to hide. He married a beautiful woman. He went under the name of Jose Roberto Escobar. His first arrest came in 1972 and spent 8 years in a Italian jail. There he was updated on the Mafia ( no, not by our Forum!) by Pippo Calo, a Maifioso and friend of his Family. After his realese in 1980 he went back to Brazil, only to become the godfather of the worlds. He became the major player between the two Cosa Nostrašs or Mafiašs if you will. He had big herion pipelines set up. He did well. He had a huge rancho in the Amazone, with itšs own airstrip. Far away from the Corleonesi.

When the second war broke out, he and Badalamenti ( who fled Sicily after his demotion in the Mafia and saw his life in danger) saw the reports on TV.

Then on October 22, 1983 he was arrested again in downtown Sao Paulo. He was extradited in 1984 to Italy. He did not want to go back and come up against old faces. He tried suicide in Brazil, because this was the only way to stop the murdering Corleonesi. But he failed. He saw this as a sign to go after Riina and his Mafia. In his own mind, a real Mafioso, who helped people not asking for money. He lived by the rules, in wich he strongly believed. A Mafia wich was no longer his, so he went and become a pentito.

So, Masimo, are you truly a man of honor?


Thanks to Alexander Stille,
Danny Hegemens & Raf Sauviller,
Giovanni Falcone & Marcelle Padovani,
with their lecture.

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