Leoluca Bagarella

Victims Unknown
Born (1942-02-03) 3 February 1942 (age 80)
Died Unknown
Known for Unknown
Criminal penalty Unknown


Leoluca Bagarella (Italian pronunciation: [ˌlɛoˈluːka baɡaˈrɛlla]; born 3 February 1942) is an Italian criminal and member of the Sicilian Mafia. He is from the town of Corleone. Following Salvatore Riina's arrest in early 1993, Bagarella became the head of the stragist strategy faction, opposing another faction commanded by the successor designate Bernardo Provenzano, creating a real rift in Cosa Nostra. Bagarella was captured in 1995, having been a fugitive for four years, and sentenced to life imprisonment for Mafia association and multiple murders.

Early life

Bagarella was born in Corleone on 3 February 1942. Bagarella sided with Luciano Leggio of the Corleonesi in the late 1950s. Bagarella became the brother-in-law of Salvatore Riina in 1974 when he married Bagarella's sister, Antonia. Two of Bagarella's brothers were also Mafiosi; his elder brother, Calogero Bagarella, was shot dead on December 10, 1969, in the Viale Lazio in Palermo, during a shootout with rival mafioso Michele Cavataio and his men, known as the Viale Lazio massacre. A second brother, Giuseppe, was murdered in prison in 1972.

On 21 July 1979, Bagarella killed police chief Boris Giuliano. Giuliano was shot dead in the Lux Bar in Palermo having a cappuccino while waiting for his car to take him to work early in the morning. Bagarella shot Giuliano in the neck three times and, standing over the body, fired four bullets into Giuliano's back before making his escape.

Giuliano's flying squad was investigating Bagarella after he had discovered his hiding place. Bagarella had managed to escape in time, but inside Giuliano discovered weapons, four kilograms of heroin and false documents with photographs depicting Bagarella.

Bagarella shot five times and killed investigative journalist Mario Francese on 26 January 1979, in front of his house in Palermo.

Terrorist campaign

Bagarella married Vincenzina Marchese in 1991. The powerfully built Bagarella modelled himself on the eponymous character of the film The Godfather. When he married the attractive niece of a boss he had the movie theme played at a lavish party. According to pentito Toni Calvaruso, Vincenzina committed suicide on 12 May 1995, due to her depressive state after a series of miscarriages, her brother Giuseppe Marchese becoming a pentito and her husband's involvement with the kidnapping and death of Giuseppe Di Matteo.

Riina's reign as "boss of bosses" suffered a severe setback when hundreds of mafioso were found guilty at the Maxi Trial in 1986/87. Once the convictions were upheld by higher courts in January 1992, Riina ordered the murder of high-profile prosecutor Giovanni Falcone, a decision that was taken over an objection by Ignazio Salvo, who had argued that Falcone was best neutralized through political machinations.

Following Riina's arrest in January 1993, Bagarella was believed to have taken over the Corleonesi, rivalling Riina's putative successor, Bernardo Provenzano.

In 1993 after Riina’s arrest, in a meeting at Villabate it was decided that both Bernardo Provenzano and Leoluca Bagarella are in charge of holding Corleone’s mandate together.

The explosion was part of a series of terrorist attacks. On 27 May 1993, a bomb under the Torre dei Pulci killed five people: Fabrizio Nencioni, his wife Angelamaria, their daughters nine-year-old Nadia and two-month-old Caterina and Dario Capolicchio, aged 20. Thirty-three people were injured. Attacks on art galleries and churches left 10 dead with many injured, and caused outrage among Italians. At least one high-ranking investigator believed most of those who carried out murders for Cosa Nostra answered solely to Bagarella, and that consequently Bagarella actually wielded more power than Bernardo Provenzano who was Riina's formal successor.

Provenzano protested about the terrorist attacks, but Bagarella responded sarcastically, telling him to wear a sign saying "I don't have anything to do with the massacres". Bagarella stopped ordering murders some time before his own capture, apparently due to the suicide of Vincenzina.

Arrest and conviction

On 24 June 1995, Bagarella was arrested, having been a fugitive for four years. Bagarella was convicted of multiple murders and imprisoned for life. These included the murder of Giuliano, the murder of Francese, the murder of Giuseppe Russo, the murder of Falcone, the murder of Giuseppe Di Matteo in 2002, the murder of Antonino Burrafato, the murder of Salvatore Caravà, the murder of Ignazio Di Giovanni in 2009, as well as the murder of Simone Lo Manto and Raimondo Mulè.

In 2002, Bagarella had protested about his treatment under the Article 41-bis prison regime law that placed heavy restrictions on jailed Mafia bosses to prevent them from running their criminal empires from behind bars. At a court appearance that June, Bagarella made some thinly veiled threats to the Italian government, saying the Mafia is "tired of being exploited, humiliated, oppressed and used like goods exchanged among the various political forces." Some interpreted this as a sign the Mafia was annoyed that its previously cozy relationship with politicians had broken down, speculating about Mafia bosses having been in some sort of clandestine negotiations with politicians. In 2005, he launched boiling oil against an 'Ndrangheta boss prisoner, leading to a further one year sentence. Following the violence, he was transferred to a prison in Parma.

In total, Bagarella was given 13 life sentences plus 106 years and ten months, and solitary confinement for 6 years.

On 20 April 2018, he was sentenced to a further 28 years in prison.

In popular culture

Characters based on Leoluca Bagarella were featured in the 2007 Italian TV series Il Capo dei Capi, the 2014 TV series Furore, the 2018 TV series Il cacciatore, the 2007 film L'ultimo dei Corleonesi, and the 2013 film La mafia uccide solo d'estate.