A law graduate, in 1952 Pippo Fava became a professional journalist and began to collaborate with various regional and national newspapers. In 1956 he was hired by Espresso Sera. He also began writing for the theatre and the cinema. In 1980 – the year in which the film, Palermo or Wolfsburg whose script he wrote, won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival – Pippo Fava left Espresso Sera and took over the editorship of the Giornale del Sud in Catania. In November 1982 he founded the monthly I Siciliani and published investigations in which the collusion between the Mafia, politics and business was exposed. At 10 pm on January 5th 1984, Pippo Fava had just left the editorial offices of his newspaper and was going to pick up his granddaughter who was acting at the Teatro Stabile in Catania. Fava did not have time to get out of the car and was killed by five 7.65 calibre shots to the back of his head. Only a few people attended his funeral including the president of the region of Sicily Santi Nicita. In 2003, the Supreme Court sentenced Nitto Santapaola, the instigator of the crime, to life imprisonment.
(from Memorial Day of journalists killed by mafia and terrorism, Rome, 2008)
(Updated by Vincenzo Arena – May 3rd 2020)
- 1994 – Fifteen years after the attack, Maurizio Avola, a criminal turned state witness , revealed that it was the Mafia boss Benedetto Santapaola who ordered the murder of Fava on behalf of some “Catania businessmen”. None of them was tried and convicted as the instigator of the murder. It seems that Fava’s articles on the relationship between the Mafia and the business world bothered, in particular, “one of decorated businessmen in Catania”.
- 1998 – At the conclusion of the “Orsa Maggiore 3” trial that took place in Catania, the Mafia boss Nitto Santapaola, as instigator, Marcello D’Agata and Francesco Giammuso as organizers, and Aldo Ercolano as the hit man are sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Giuseppe Fava together with the confessed offender Maurizio Avola.
- 2001 – Life imprisonment sentences are confirmed by the Court of Appeal of Catania for Nitto Santapaola and Aldo Ercolano. Marcello D’Agata and Franco Giammuso were instead acquitted.
- 2003 – The sentence of the Supreme Court definitively sentenced Nitto Santapaola and Aldo Ercolano to life imprisonment and Maurizio Avola to a moderated sentence of seven years.
- 2019 – In December, the judicial authorities ordered the revocation of the “hard prison regime ” for the Mafia boss Aldo Ercolano. The president of the Anti-Mafia Commission of the Sicilian Region, the journalist Claudio Fava, son of the murdered journalist, urged the Minister of Justice Bonafede to investigate the reasons for the revocation of the “hard prison regime” for the boss who, according to Fava, on the basis of recent judicial investigations and statements by some collaborators with the justice system would retain a persistent “ability to control and command … the affiliates of his criminal group“. “It is believed – Fava is specific – that the Santapaola-Ercolano family encompass over half of all the affiliates of the Cosa Nostra in Catania”.
(Text by Vincenzo Arena – 3 May 2020)
In 1980, as director of the Giornale del Sud newspaper, Pippo Fava began an unprecedented editorial experience in Sicilian publishing, characterized by investigations into the links between politicians, local entrepreneurs and organized crime, represented by an irreverent journalism towards the notables of Catania which demanded an answer to their connivance and collusion. The newspaper reconstructed the building pillage of the city, the clambering of the Mafia for the most lucrative contracts and the resignation of honest individuals. For these initiatives, the journalist was subjected to censorship by the publisher and to threats and attacks. In the end, Fava was fired and a few months afterwards the newspaper ceased publication.
In 1982 the editorial experiment of I Siciliani began, a monthly founded and self-financed by Pippo Fava himself who made it the instrument to report without omissions and in detail the underworld of a most corrupt and complacent Sicily, depicted as a metaphor for a world where events go unnoticed: the devastation of the environment, the nuclear trap of Comiso, the challenge of the Mafia. He had already dealt with such themes in his literary activity and now he dealt with them as news and with the rigour of the journalist. I Siciliani was an investigative monthly across the board: politics, current affairs, sport, entertainment, customs, art.
In the short period when General Carlo Alberto Della Chiesa was appointed Prefect of Palermo with the task of accentuating the fight against Cosa Nostra, the investigations of I Siciliani had a strong impact on Sicilian politics and on the fight against the Mafia, turning the spotlight on the Mafia in Catania hitherto in the shade.