For information only - not an official document

18 July 2012

UNODC Chief praises murdered magistrates who helped found modern approach to organized crime

VIENNA, 19 July (UN Information Service) - Twenty years after their murders, Italian magistrates Paolo Borsellino and Giovanni Falcone continue to exert influence over the way countries combat organized crime.

Italian magistrate Paolo Borsellino, and five police officers, were killed on 19 July 1992 when a car bomb exploded in Palermo, Sicily. His death came 57 days after fellow magistrate, Giovanni Falcone, was murdered on 23 May. The massive bomb placed on the motorway near Capaci, Sicily, also killed Falcone's magistrate wife, and three police officers.

Speaking on the anniversary of their murder by organized criminals, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Yury Fedotov said: "The work of these two magistrates is inspirational and forms the bedrock of the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime. Twenty years on, we continue to trace the proceeds of crime, to seize assets and to focus on the criminal networks, while building international cooperation. In this sense, their work lives on."

Borsellino and Falcone left a lasting legacy on Italian and international approaches to combating organized crime. In 2000, some twelve years after their deaths, the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, codified a number of the magistrates' methods. Provisions on international judicial and legal cooperation, specialized investigative techniques and the protection of witnesses are all indebted to their groundbreaking work.

Falcone's innovative focus on the financial trail left by criminals and asset seizures are both key strategies in fighting organized crime today. Falcone was also one of the first magistrates to recognize the global nature of these crimes and to establish working relationships with international colleagues. He was pivotal in criminalizing participation in criminal networks, rather than simply concentrating on individual crimes.

"These two magistrates have been enormously influential on the way the international community combats transnational organized crime. Although Italy was regrettably one of the first countries to face this threat, it was also one of the first to provide a roadmap on how to successfully deal with it," said Mr. Fedotov. "That roadmap was built on the courage and bravery of magistrates such as Falcone and Borsellino."

He also noted: "Thanks to these experiences, Italy is now a prime mover in this field. I hope it will continue to work with other countries to promote solutions and best practices to a challenge that every country and region now faces."

UNODC has recently launched a campaign showing how transnational organized crime destabilizes countries and entire regions, undermines development assistance and increases domestic corruption, extortion, racketeering and violence. All materials are available through the campaign website -

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For further information please contact:

David Dadge
Spokesperson, UNODC
Telephone: (+43 1) 26060-5629
Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-5629
Email: david.dadge[at]