Murray - Anjo W.
Murray - Anjo W.

Interview with Antonino Miceli

Interview by Susanna Jacona Salafia

Three years after his "flight" from Gela, a large town in Sicily in south Italy, Antonino Miceli, ex car-dealer and a "key" witness at an anti-racketeering maxi-trial, named "Bronx 2", victimized because of his courageous denunciations at the Court of Gela, decides to talk about his story. He reaches us by phone (through the Anti-Mafia Distrectual Direction telephone line, to prevent any interception) from a secret residence where he lives now with his family. His life, today more than yesterday, is an armored one. Perhaps it would be better to say it is not even his existence anymore, but that of another whose identity he has assumed, as part of a special Italian program of Mafia witness protection.

Antonino Miceli, together with Piero Nava (the latter having served as a witness for the court in the case of the Rosario Livatino murder and identified the Mafia killers), are the sole two cases, in Italy, of common and honest people now living under the State protection plan. The rest of the people in the program are former Mafia associates. The witness is given a new name, new city and a monthly salary by Italian Government until they find a new job: only in that way can the chances of being killed by the Mafia be reduced. Their life, habits and environment have been suddenly and completely upset just for having chosen to be honest, for breaking the wall of silence conspiracy, the Sicilian "omertà."

"I have felt, just now, the need of talking, after three years of silence," says Miceli, "because I'm realizing that people are forgetting. I've been hearing around: I don't want to come to Miceli's end, he was forced to escape. I answer them: would everybody come to my end, so that nobody would be forced to escape. I chose to live in freedom and in peace with my conscience at any cost: I'm personally proud of it".

What happened, suddenly, in April 1994, when Miceli, after the hearings at the Bronx trial, closed his business and left Gela is still a mystery. It was said that the Carabinieri had defused, just in time, a car bomb parked in front of his home in Gela. This fact has never been confirmed, but it becomes evident that the "movements" of the cosche Mafiosi (Mafia criminal group) had made the criminal inquirers suspicious and they immediately effected Miceli's move from Gela to an unknown city and put him under a special protection plan.

Mr. Miceli, why did you escape from your native place?

"We can say that it has been a strategic retreat. In the meaning that it was considered "inconceivable," for my personal and family's sake, to go on living in Gela. The reports of the Carabinieri, when they are exposed at the Bronx trial, will reveal what has really happened. Facts that I don't know exactly."

Mr. Miceli, today you live hidden in a secret place but, on the other hand, 29 other dealers of Gela that chose silence and didn't collaborate with Justice now risk five years of imprisonment, charged of reticence...

"I think it is an act of Justice owed to the civic Italian society, to my employees and to myself as well. I understand the fear because I fear too, but we can't behave as cowards. We can't go on saying, to justify our silence, that the State is guilty because it doesn't protect us. The State certainly has its faults but we all owe it to take on our responsibilities. My colleagues have denied everything right in front of the evidence. People, like me, that instead decided to collaborate with Justice, wouldn't have been left alone if we had stood together. If, instead of three or four, we had been fifty or one hundred strong to speak to the Carabinieri, things would have been otherwise"

Do you mean, perhaps, that even a certain isolation has also forced you to leave Gela?

"The same night of Gaetano Giordano murder, who was killed by the Mafia at Gela because, like me, he didn't pay the pizzo (the monthly sum of money claimed by local Mafia to all the dealers), I was asked: Miceli, what will be your future now? I answered that it depended on Gela, on its reaction to these facts. If, after two years I then decided to go away... the answer to your question becomes clear.

Certainly the "non-answer" of the city is a determinant. For example, my activity had gone very well for years. Then in the last two years the rush died down. During the Bronx trial no one would enter my shop."

Mr. Miceli, if you could, would you come back to live in Gela?

"Certainly, yes. It is, practically, a utopia. I have a wonderful memory of the men in uniform, the Carabinieri, and the ones in the gown, the judges, that always greeted me, not only materially, but above all morally. They would have done the same with those 29 Gela dealers that have chosen, instead, the conspiracy of silence, the Sicilian "omertà."

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