(from correspondent Elvira Terranova) – The revelation comes at the beginning of the hearing when, for the first time, Gioacchino Genchi, former deputy commissioner of the Palermo Police Headquarters, for a period of time a close collaborator of Arnaldo La Barbera, and now a criminal lawyer, recalls a background story unpublished, never told until today. An episode that allegedly occurred in 1989, after the arrest of the mafia turncoat Totuccio Contorno, who had returned to shooting and was accused, by an anonymous letter sent at the time to the Anti-Mafia High Commission, of being a ‘state killer’ . “I remember that La Barbera spoke to me about weapons brought to Ostia, filled with sand – says Genchi today – they fired the guns with sand to alter the macro and micro striations of the barrel of the weapon so that there would then be no possible correspondence with the ballistic results of the bullets that had been found on the bodies of the various murders that had been committed before Contorno’s capture”. In short, a real manipulation operation to ensure that the weapons found in Contorno were modified. Statements never made before. “The weapons would have been taken to Rome to carry out ballistic tests”, says Genchi, then replying, after the cross-examination, to the side judge who appears interested in the unpublished episode, and asks him why precisely in Ostia. “To avoid any hypotheses, La Barbera told me”, explains the former policeman. A way to cover a ‘state killer’? A mystery that thickens.
Then, Gioacchino Genchi during the river deposition, also talks about his collaboration with La Barbera and the change in attitude of the then director of the Flying Squad. What suddenly changed everything was the arrest, at Christmas 1992, of the former 007 Bruno Contrada. From that moment on, the attitude of La Barbera, involved in the investigations into the mafia massacres of 1992, would radically change. “His strategy was to ‘dress the puppet’ and close the investigations as soon as possible, because in Rome they wanted did so. Barbera followed directives and never acted alone. Now it is easy to try the dead…”. “He told me ‘We have to dress the baby as he is – says Genchi – we have to close as soon as possible and leave.’
It’s a river in flood, the lawyer Gioacchino Genchi, former deputy commissioner of the Palermo Police Headquarters, in the long deposition at the appeal trial on the misdirection of the investigations into the massacre in Via D’Amelio which sees three policemen in the dock: Mario Bo, Fabrizio Mattei and Michele Ribaudo, accused of complicit slander aggravated by having facilitated Cosa Nostra. According to the prosecution, the policemen, led by La Barbera, would have fed the false repentant Vincenzo Scarantino, who then had the innocent people sentenced to life imprisonment. In the first instance the statute of limitations took over for Bo and Mattei while Ribaudo was acquitted of the accusation. Genchi, in over six hours of testimony, answered all the questions of the prosecution and defense, retracing the period from 1988 to 1993, when he collaborated with the then manager Arnaldo La Barbera, who died in 2002.
‘He was the bearer of very specific directives from Rome’
Gioacchino Genchi, answering the questions of the prosecutor Maurizio Bonaccorso, applied to the General Prosecutor’s Office, and the deputy Prosecutor Antonino Patti, reiterates several times that Arnaldo La Barbera “was the bearer of precise directives. He did nothing, unless under the control of the Chief of Police Parisi and Prefect Luigi Rossi. Barbera carried out directives and never acted independently.” But he repeatedly underlines that La Barbera’s trajectory, at a certain point, would have taken a different turn. “Arnaldo La Barbera had gone astray and was not working for my goals which were the institutional goals. I did not accept in the slightest bit transgressing what were my institutional duties”, underlines the lawyer and former policeman Gioacchino. “La Barbera had been instructed by the then Prosecutor of Caltanissetta Tinebra on the contents of the sentence of the maxi trial which automatically led to attributing any event that occurred in Palermo to Cosa Nostra, therefore La Barbera always carried out directives. Everything that and in Mutolo’s declarations, which led to an ambiguous role of the Contrada and other members of the State, it had to be left unsaid because it had to be closed like this in order to then get the promotion and leave Palermo. Because the package had to be put together. I remember a sentence from La Barbera ‘The last thing I will do, when I leave, will be to take a helicopter ride to pee on the Palermo police station’. We are between the end of ’91 and the beginning of ’92 – specifies Genchi – La Barbera He was trying to leave Palermo and they wouldn’t release him because they couldn’t find a successor.”
During the hearing, all eyes were also on the red agenda of judge Paolo Borsellino, who disappeared after the massacre in Via D’Amelio. “The only conversation was with the prosecutor of Caltanissetta Fausto Cardella who took a bag from my closet and showed me inside a smoked battery and a nylon costume with laces. And he asked me for an opinion and I said that, in my opinion, that battery was not in the bag and had only been touched.” Genchi is convinced that the diary was not in the magistrate’s bag. “If the diary had been inside the bag, the costume should have caught fire before the paper. So, in my opinion, the diary wasn’t inside the bag if it burned. The costume was definitely inside the bag but the diary wasn’t” .
Then, continuing to talk about the red agenda, he recalls that time that Arnaldo La Barbera “was greatly saddened, or rather he was more than angry, at the fact that the possibility was raised that he had stolen judge Paolo Borsellino’s red agenda. And they had reported to him that Mrs. Agnese had reservations about him due to the fact that she believed it or, better yet, had been convinced – and he believed that she was being guided by the police – to convince herself that he had stolen the red diary “. Genchi recalls “a significant detail”. “One evening we went to dinner in Palermo in a pizzeria and there were the prosecutor Fausto Cardella, Arnaldo La Barbera and Ilda Boccassini, we went to ‘Peppino’. We were sitting at the table when Mrs. Agnese, her daughter Lucia and other people entered. We went to say hello to her, they kissed Boccassini, but Mrs. Agnese refused to say hello to La Barbera. He made a fuss about this, he was mortified.”
‘They were worried after Contrada’s arrest about what he could say’
Then, returning to talk about the arrest of the former 007 Bruno Contrada, for external complicity in a mafia association, on 24 December 1992, Genchi reiterates that La Barbera and his superiors “were worried” because the former secret service official “was he had always been a man of the institutions and there was fear of what he could bring out. Contrada had been dumped, he had been expelled from the system, which at that point had to be regrouped.” “Contrada, if he wanted, after the arrest, could have revealed topics that might not have been appreciated. There was a form of complicity or an attempt to help him. There was fear of Contrada and La Barbera told me this because he could have spoken also of a series of events such as that of Contorno”. Here the “backtrack” of La Barbera takes place. “It is from that moment that La Barbera’s certainty of having the promotion began, the attempt to close and simplify things began, to ‘dress the baby’ as he himself said”.
Gioacchino also speaks of the arrest of the Chief of Chiefs Totò Riina, which took place on 15 January 1993. “I knew in advance that in January he would be arrested and that the Carabinieri would arrest him. Because the Police had to be ‘commissioned’, the Police later In short, the arrest of Bruno Contrada in January 1993 should have ended.” And regarding the massacres, he says he is convinced that “they didn’t want to identify those truly responsible for the massacres, there was a political motive for Capaci”. And he tells an anecdote: “In ’92 La Barbera wanted to leave Palermo and leave the Flying Squad. I remember he told me a particular phrase: ‘Before I leave I have to take a helicopter ride over Palermo and when I arrive above the police station I have to pee. ‘. He told me this at the end of ’91 and before the Lima murder.”
Gioacchino Genchi also recalls the story of the false repentant Salvatore Candura, who was believed by the prosecutors of Caltanissetta. “I immediately perceived that it was a person who presented major psychological problems. The second perception was that in all of Salvatore Candura’s answers he demonstrated that he was educated. Upon leaving I thought that it was necessary to carefully verify the contents of the statements”. Salvatore Candura is the former repentant who accused himself of the theft of the 126 used as a car bomb in the Via d’Amelio massacre. Statements that later turned out to be false. Only later did Candura say that the then director of the Palermo Flying Squad, Arnaldo La Barbera, and the then police officer, Vincenzo Ricciardi, would have told him that he would have risked life imprisonment if he had recanted. The three defendants, the policemen Mario Bo, Fabrizio Mattei and Michele Ribaudo, are accused of slander aggravated by having favored the mafia because, according to the General Prosecutor’s Office, they would have fed the false repentant Vincenzo Scarantino into the Via D’Amelio massacre. The former police officer Genchi today said that in 1992 he witnessed the interrogation in Mantua between the prosecutor Carmelo Petralia and the false repentant Candura. But for Genchi “the absurdities reported” by Candura were evident. The same former repentant was later convicted of slander.
Returning to the collaboration with Arnaldo La Barbera, Genchi reiterates that with his arrival “the intelligence activity was transferred to me”. In the summer of 1988 “we managed to intercept a telephone booth in San Nicola L’Arena from which Giuseppe Grado and the justice collaborator Totuccio Contorno often called. They also called Gianni De Gennaro. That telephone booth was a gold mine. Contorno he informed us of everything he did. He spoke of ‘snails’ and ‘dew’, but it is clear that he spoke of people who came out ‘the horns’ like the babbaluci (the snails ed.). I didn’t feel like staying in Palermo. I had studied criminal law and I had read that not preventing an event is equivalent to causing it. And I went to Rome with my family.” And here he makes the revelation about weapons with sand: “I learned from La Barbera that there had been manipulation operations to ensure that they were modified. Arnaldo La Barbera spoke to me about weapons brought to Ostia, filled with sand so that there would then be no correspondence with the ballistic results of the bullets that had been found on the corpses of the murders that occurred before the capture of Contorno”.
The relationship between La Barbera and Genchi became increasingly close until the ‘case’ broke out of the repentant Totuccio Contorno who returned to Sicily in arms and based himself in San Nicola l’Arena. Genchi also makes another revelation: “I remember that one day I had a furious clash with the prosecutor Ilda Boccassini over the control of Giovanni Falcone’s credit cards. She accused me of wanting to investigate Falcone’s private life, after she herself had asked me investigate Falcone’s entire life, but for me he was the only one to understand if the judge had been in the United States”. The deposition continued until late afternoon. The trial will resume on February 20th when the President of the Court Giovambattista Tona will dissolve some reservations.