The Mayor of Corleone, Sicily -- the birthplace of the fictional mafia boss Vito Corleone from the legendary film “The Godfather” – has apologized for the town’s long association with La Cosa Nostra and also declared that mob activity no longer plagues it.
"I apologize on behalf of all of Corleone, I ask forgiveness for the blood that was paid," said Leoluchina Savona, while attending a ceremony that included naming a street after a Mafia victim, according to the Gazzetta del Sud newspaper.
Savona made the announcement on Monday, the 20th anniversary of the arrest of Salvatore ‘Totò’ Riina -- the Corleone-born "boss of all bosses" who is believed to be one of the most vicious and ruthless mobsters in the island’s long, bloody history.
The mayor also pleaded for an end to mob violence in Sicily.
"To the Mafia ... I ask you to leave this land, and to abandon the struggle," she said.
"I ask them to admit defeat, to surrender in awareness that this earth, at last, one day it will liberated.”
Riina, nicknamed La Belva (The beast) for his extreme ferocity, ordered hundreds, perhaps thousands, of killings during the mob wars of the 1980s and early 1990s, in which he sought to seize control of the entire island’s organized crime operations, particularly the lucrative heroin trade.
He led the brutal Corleonesi family, which also challenged the Italian state.
Indeed, two of his most prominent victims were anti-Mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, who were murdered in separate bombings in 1992.
One of Riina’a most prolific hitmen, Giovanni Brusca (who was directly involved in the killing of Falcone and later turned informant after his arrest), even claimed that his boss wanted to attack famous Italian tourist spots, including the Leaning Tower of Pisa, in order to compel the state to ease its crackdown on Mafia activities.
Riina, a small, nondescript looking man now aged 82, is presently serving multiple life sentences in prison. His alleged successor as boss of the Corleonesi, Bernardo Provenzano, was arrested in 2006 after more than 40 years as a fugitive.
Provenzano, as well as another psychopathic killer named Luciano Leggio, wase also from Corleone.
"In the 20 years since the arrest of Totò Riina, their blood reminds us all that there can only be one path to choose in this war [that of legality]," Mayor Savina added.
Outside Italy, however, Riina is largely unknown – in fact, due to the huge popularity of the "Godfather" films, especially in the U.S., Corleone is more associated with Don Vito Corleone, played by Marlon Brando, and originally created by Italian-American author, Mario Puzo.
In Puzo's fictitious story, he was born Vito Andolini and had to flee Corleone because the local mafia chieftain Don Ciccio threatened his life. When young Vito arrived in Ellis Island in New York a few weeks later, the immigration authorities mistakenly thought his surname was Corleone (his hometown), and it stuck, thereby becoming one of the most famous names in cinematic history.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.