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Italian mafia boss who killed famous prosecutor and dissolved boy's body in acid is released from prison

Photographer's mafia photos
Documenting Italy's bloody battle against the mafia 03:45

Italians reacted with dismay Tuesday at the release from prison of an infamous mafia boss who assassinated Italy's most famous prosecutor and dissolved a boy's body in acid, among other crimes. Giovanni Brusca, 64, was released Monday from Rome's Rebibbia prison after serving a 25-year sentence, during which he became a state's witness.

He will now serve four years of probation.

FILE PHOTO: Anti-Mafia police wearing masks to hide their identity, escort top Mafia fugitive Giovani Brusca May..
In this undated file photo, anti-Mafia police wearing masks to hide their identity, escort top Mafia fugitive Giovani Brusca as he leaves Palermo's police headquarters to be taken to a maximum security prison. Tony Gentile via Reuters

"Brusca freed — the cruelest boss," wrote La Repubblica daily.

Brusca was a key figure within the Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian mafia group.

He detonated the bomb that killed Giovanni Falcone, Italy's legendary prosecuting magistrate who dedicated his career to overthrowing the mafia, in 1992.

Falcone's wife and three bodyguards were also killed in the attack after their car drove over a section of highway outside Palermo where 882 pounds of explosives were hidden, detonated by Brusca nearby.

The wife of one of the bodyguards killed, Tina Montinaro, told Repubblica she was "indignant" at Brusca's release.

"The state is against us -- after 29 years we still don't know the truth about the massacre and Giovanni Brusca, the man who destroyed my family, is free," Montinaro said.  

Falcone's sister, Maria, told the paper she was distressed by the news but "it's the law, a law moreover wanted by my brother and that should be respected."

Brusca, who was arrested in 1996, was one of the most loyal operators of Cosa Nostra boss Salvatore "Toto" Riina, and as a collaborator admitted to carrying out hundreds of murders, Italian news media reported.

One of the most grisly was the killing of 12-year-old Giuseppe Di Matteo, the son of a mafia turncoat, who was kidnapped in 1993 in retaliation for his father collaborating with authorities.

After being held in a house for over two years in squalid conditions, the boy was strangled and his body thrown into acid in what police have called "one of the most heinous crimes in the history of the Cosa Nostra".

Protests about Brusca's release also came from both sides of Italy's political divide.

The leader of the center-left Democratic Party, Enrico Letta, called it "a punch in the stomach that leaves one speechless, wondering how it's possible".

Far-right leader Matteo Salvini, head of the League party, went further.

"A person who committed these acts, who dissolved a child in acid, who killed Falcone, is in my opinion a wild beast and cannot get out of prison," Salvini said.

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