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Encyclopedia > Pentito
Tommaso Buscetta (in sunglasses), the first important pentito of Italian Mafia, escorted in a court of law.

Pentito (Italian he who has repented, plural pentiti) designates people in Italy who collaborate with the judicial system to help investigations. The judicial category of the pentiti was first created to fight terrorism in the 1970s, during the "lead years". Their correct technical name in Italian is collaboratori di giustizia ("collaborators with justice"). In the wake of the Maxi Trial in 1986-87 and after the testimonies of Tommaso Buscetta, it more often designated former members of the Sicilian Mafia who have abandoned their organisation and started helping in investigations. Image File history File links Mafia informant Tommaso Buscetta in court, circa 1986. ... Image File history File links Mafia informant Tommaso Buscetta in court, circa 1986. ... Tommaso Buscetta (Palermo, July 13, 1928- New York, April 4, 2000) was a Sicilian mafioso. ... This article is about the organized crime groups. ... This article is about courts of law. ... Look up plural in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Terrorist redirects here. ... The 1970s decade refers to the years from 1970 to 1979, also called The Seventies. ... After World War II and the overthrow of Mussolinis fascist regime, Italys history was dominated by the Democrazia Cristiana (DC - Christian-Democrats) party for forty years, while the opposition was led by the Italian Communist Party (PCI); this condition endured until the Tangentopoli scandal and operation Mani pulite... Giovanni Falcone, one of the architects of the Maxi Trial. ... Tommaso Buscetta (Palermo, July 13, 1928- New York, April 4, 2000) was a Sicilian mafioso. ... Sicily ( in Italian and Sicilian) is an autonomous region of Italy and the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, with an area of 25,708 km² (9,926 sq. ... This article is about the criminal society. ...


Role and benefits

In exchange for the information they deliver, pentiti receive shorter sentences for their crimes, in some cases even freedom. In the Italian judicial system, pentiti can obtain personal protection, a new name, and some money to start a new life in another place, possibly abroad. This practice is common in other countries as well: in the United States, criminals testifying against their former associates can enter the Witness Protection Program, and be given new identities, with supporting paperwork. This article does not cite any references or sources. ... For other uses, see Name (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Money (disambiguation). ... For other uses, see Life (disambiguation). ... In the United States, the Witness Protection Program (also known as WITSEC) is established by the Witness Protection Act, which in turn sets out the manner in which the U.S. Attorney General may provide for the relocation and protection of a witness or potential witness of the federal government... Identity is an umbrella term used throughout the social sciences for an individuals comprehension of him or herself as a discrete, separate entity. ...


Among the most famous Mafia pentiti is Tommaso Buscetta, the first important pentito, who was very helpful to judge Giovanni Falcone in describing the Sicilian Mafia Commission or Cupola, the leadership of the Sicilian Mafia in the 1980s, and identifying the main operational channels that the mafia used and uses for its business. Tommaso Buscetta (Palermo, July 13, 1928- New York, April 4, 2000) was a Sicilian mafioso. ... Giovanni Falcone during the Maxi Trial Giovanni Falcone, (May 18, 1939 – May 23, 1992) was an Italian magistrate who specialised in prosecuting Cosa Nostra crimes. ... The Sicilian Mafia Commission, known as Commissione or Cupola, is a body of leading Mafia members to decide on important questions concerning the actions of, and settling disputes within the Sicilian Mafia or Cosa Nostra. ... The generic term leader redirects here. ... The 1980s refers to the years from 1980 to 1989. ...

In Italy, important successes were achieved with the cooperation of pentiti in the fight against terrorism (especially against the Red Brigades), by Carabinieri general Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa (later killed by the Mafia). Terrorist redirects here. ... The Red Brigades (Brigate Rosse in Italian, often abbreviated as the BR) were a terrorist group[1] located in Italy and active during the Years of Lead. Formed in 1970, the Marxist-Leninist Red Brigades sought to create a revolutionary state through armed struggle and to separate Italy from the... The Carabinieri are the military police of Italy. ... Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa (September 27, 1920, Saluzzo, province of Cuneo – 3 September 1982, Palermo) was a general of the Italian carabinieri notable for campaigning against terrorism during Italys 1970s strategy of tension, and later assassinated by the Mafia in Palermo. ...

In some cases, pentiti have invented stories to obtain reductions in jail time. A famous case regarded the popular TV anchorman Enzo Tortora, who was accused of cocaine trafficking by a pentito. Tortora was detained for years before being cleared; he developed cancer and died soon after the case was finally solved, some say because of the emotional stress of his imprisonment. TV redirects here. ... Anchorman may refer to: News anchor, someone who works in radio who hosts a regular news program Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, a 2004 American comedy movie This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. ... Cancer is a class of diseases or disorders characterized by uncontrolled division of cells and the ability of these to spread, either by direct growth into adjacent tissue through invasion, or by implantation into distant sites by metastasis (where cancer cells are transported through the bloodstream or lymphatic system). ... In medical terms, stress is the disruption of homeostasis through physical or psychological stimuli. ...

Important Mafia pentiti

  • Leonardo Vitale (1941-1984) was one of the first to become a pentito in 1973, although originally his confessions were not taken seriously.
  • Tommaso Buscetta (1928-2000) was the first important pentito against the Sicilian Mafia. He started to collaborate with anti-Mafia prosecutor Giovanni Falcone in 1984. His testimony was of crucial importance in the Maxi Trial.
  • Salvatore Contorno (born 1946) started to collaborate in October 1984, following the example of Buscetta.
  • Antonino Calderone (born 1935) started to collaborate in April 1987.
  • Francesco Marino Mannoia (born 1951) started to collaborate in October 1989. He was the first pentito that came out of the winning faction of the Second Mafia War.
  • Giovanni Brusca, murderer of anti-Mafia prosecutor Falcone, began to collaborate in 1996.
  • See also Category:Pentiti

Leonardo Vitale (far left) in custody Leonardo Vitale (June 27, 1941 - December 2, 1984) was a member of the Sicilian Mafia who was one of the first to become an informant, or pentito, although originally his confessions were not taken seriously. ... Tommaso Buscetta (Palermo, July 13, 1928- New York, April 4, 2000) was a Sicilian mafioso. ... Giovanni Falcone during the Maxi Trial Giovanni Falcone, (May 18, 1939 – May 23, 1992) was an Italian magistrate who specialised in prosecuting Cosa Nostra crimes. ... Giovanni Falcone, one of the architects of the Maxi Trial. ... Mafia turncoat Salvatore Totuccio Contorno Salvatore Totuccio Contorno (Palermo, May 28, 1946) was a member of the Sicilian Mafia who turned into a state witness against Cosa Nostra in October 1984, following the example of Tommaso Buscetta. ... Catania Mafia boss and pentito Antonino Calderone Antonino Calderone (b. ... Francesco Mannoia (centre, foreground) in custody, circa 1986 Francesco Marino Mannoia (born 1951) was a member of the Sicilian Mafia who became a pentito. ... The Second Mafia War was a conflict within the Sicilian Mafia, mostly taking place in the early 1980s. ... Giovanni Brusca (born 1957 in San Giuseppe Jato) is a former member of the Sicilian Mafia. ...

Cultural acceptance

In some southern-Italian communities the Mafia is a significant presence, and in these areas becoming a pentito is tantamount to a death sentence. Indeed, the Mafia family of Totò Riina from Corleone habitually extended this sentence to cover relatives of the pentito. For example, all of Tommaso Buscetta's family was devistated in a long series of murders spanning many years. Salvatore Riina Salvatore Riina, also known as Totò Riina (born November 16, 1930) is one of the most infamous members of the Sicilian Mafia. ... Tommaso Buscetta (Palermo, July 13, 1928- New York, April 4, 2000) was a Sicilian mafioso. ...

Furthermore, in the most degraded areas, where people live on the borderline of legality or beyond, there is an induced subculture of hostility towards public institutions and of trust in the Mafia. People will not collaborate with the police (a phenomenon known as omertà), and will consider any pentito an infame, a traitor. In sociology, anthropology and cultural studies, a subculture is a set of people with a set of behaviors and beliefs, culture, which could be distinct or hidden, that differentiate them from the larger culture to which they belong. ... Omertà is a popular attitude, common in areas of southern Italy, such as Sicily, Calabria and Campania, where the criminal organizations like the Mafia, Ndrangheta, and Camorra are strong. ...

Since the pentito himself is physically protected by the police, retribution on his family is common; therefore, when there are rumours of a mafioso collaborating with the police, the family usually condemns that person immediately to avoid retaliation. For example, when Vincenzo Sinagra began collaborating with the authorities his entire family disowned him. Vincenzo Sinagra was an associate of the Sicilian Mafia who later became a significant informant. ...

Abuse of the term

It is often pointed out that the correct term should be collaboratori di giustizia, or "justice collaborators". The word pentito implies a moral judgement that is considered inappropriate for the courts of justice to make.[1] This article is about the use of the moral in storytelling. ...


In Italy, pentiti have come under criticism because of the favours they receive and because:

  • they would invent stories to receive benefits;
  • they would invent stories to persecute people they do not like;
  • their employment is seen as a reward for criminals, instead of a punishment;
  • they would be unreliable, since they come from a criminal organisation.

Criticism comes most often from politicians, especially when they or an associate of theirs is under investigation for connections to the Mafia. It is therefore interpreted by some as an attempt to discredit one's own accusers, instead of a genuine preoccupation of the common citizen's civil rights. The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      A politician is an individual who is a formally recognized and active member of a government, or a person who influences the way a society is governed through an understanding of political power and group dynamics. ... This article is about the criminal society. ... Civil rights or positive rights are those legal rights retained by citizens and protected by the government. ...

Luciano Violante, a politician and former president of the Italian Antimafia Commission, countered that "We do not find information about the Mafia among nuns".[2] Luciano Violante was born 25 September 1941 in Dire Daua (Ethiopia). ... The Italian Antimafia Commission is a bicameral commission of the Italian Parliament, composed of members from the Chamber of Deputies (Italian: Camera dei Deputati) and the Senate (Italian: Senato della Repubblica). ... For other uses, see Nun (disambiguation). ...

Laws have been passed that bar pentiti to obtain substantial benefits unless their revelations are later deemed new material, and lead to concrete results; there have been proposals to accept revelations only for six months, after which their revelations could not be used in court.

This has had the effect of reducing the appeal of becoming a pentito, since a single mafia associate does not know whether his knowledge will be useful to the prosecutors at the time of defection. Defection from mafia in Italy have subsequently sharply reduced from the height reached in the early nineties, and results in the fight against mafia have reduced accordingly. In politics, a defector is a person who gives up allegiance to one state or political entity in exchange for allegiance to another. ...


  1. ^ Backlash threatens to silence informers, The Independent, May 2, 1997
  2. ^ Luciano Violante, Non è la piovra: Dodici tesi sulle mafie italiane ("It is not the octopus: twelve theses on Italian Mafias"), Einaudi, 1994, ISBN 88-06-13401-9.



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