Friday, August 20, 2010

Rita Atria - A victim of the Mafia


The Sicilian Girl

In this post (after many months of silence... sigh) I'll be talking about a real story that happened in Sicily many years after I left. And unfortunately, I came to find out about it after casually watching a movie. At first, I didn't realized that this story was based on real events, and also that this movie made me realize how much I didn't know about Sicily since I left it.

In this movie (The Sicilian Girl - La siciliana ribelle) is depicted the true story of a Sicilian girl who lived her very short life in a very close family/mafia environment.

The name of that young girl was Rita Atria

Rita Adria lived in a famiglia intisa (well respected family) in Partanna a small town in the province of Trapani. At the age of eleven years old her father - don Vito Adria known as the, "paciere" (pacifier) a man from the old Mafia style - was killed by the men of rival Mafia gangs, because of a regional power struggles occurring in between the 1987 and 1991 (a Mafia war for the Mafioso dominion of the Belice valley which left dead on those streets dozens of people).

The Belice valley

Don Vito got killed two days after the wedding of his only son Nicola with a woman by the name of Piera Aiello. Nicola (a Mafioso himself) after the violent death of his father (don Vito) decides to take revenge on his father's killers, but six years later on June 24, 1991 he too got killed by two men that entered his home with a double barrelled, sawn-off shotgun (the Sicilian classic Lupara).

He dies not before her sister Rita, collects the most intimate confidenze on the transactions and dynamics of the Partanna's Mafia clans on her personal diaries. Her sister-in-law (Piera Aiello) after the death of her husband Nicole came with the decision to collaborate with the Italian justice and her deposition caused the arrest of many Partanna's Mafiosi. She can't longer tolerate, "i silenzi omertosi" - (is an Italian term for the Mafia’s code of silence) of an entire town and then she too became like her sister-in-law a, "testimone di giustizzia" - (witness of justice).

I like to stress that Rita Adria like her sister-in-law Piera weren't, "pentite di mafia" because they have not committed any crime to regret. I prefer to refer to them in this post as, "testimoni di giustizia".

In fact, many people in Italy still confuse the, "testimoni di giustizzia" - (witnesses of justice) with the, "pentiti di Mafia" - (informants of Mafia): The, "testimoni di giustizzia" are people who have never committed any crime and that decide to spontaneously collaborate with the Italian justice system. In the other hand the, "pentiti di Mafia" are former Mafia clan's members who have committed crimes of any sort that at some point decided to turn against their criminal organization for various reasons.

The Sicilian Girl - La Siciliana Ribelle

A picciridda (the little one - that's was the way don Vito Atria was used to call his little daughter Rita) at the age of seventeen she decides too, to take revenge for the deaths of her father and brother by talking to the Italian magistrates the same way her sister-in-law Piera did. On November 5, 1991 she got out from her home to go to the school... instead, she went straight to the office of Paolo Borsellino, (back then procurator of Marsala) to turn over to Borsellino her testimony and precious diaries in order to denounce many local mafiosi.

Of course (like her sister-in-law's decision), after her move many more ended up in handcuffs. Now everyone in Rita's town hates her too, even her own mother doesn't want to know about a daughter that speaks with the sbirri (minions of the Italian state - italian cops), anymore. Meanwhile Borsellino worried for the fate of the, "picciridda" tells her to take an Italian map and cut the Sicilian island out of the map and throw it away for good, "you must forget Sicily!". Afterward, he puts Adria under a witness protection program and moved her to a new secret location in Rome.

One thing for sure, slowly during the all of Rita's hard deal, her obsession of revenge for her loved ones turns into a lonely quest for justice.

The Mafia it's us, with our wrong ways to think and behave

During the last months she lived in Rome the only figure she could really count on was the judge Paolo Borsellino. Indeed, she saw in him a sort of protective father figure. In her diaries she wrote a lot about him. Even the Sicilian judge considered her more like a daughter than a witness, especially, because he had already a real daughter the same age as Adria.

In 1992, Borsellino was killed by a car bomb in Via D'Amelio, Palermo, less than two months after the death of his good friend Giovanni Falcone.

Paolo Borsellino

Rita learns the bad news from the television. And now, without the fatherly figure of a Borsellino ready to shield her from anyone and everyone, for sure she must have felt like the only world she has ever known was gradually shattering into very small pieces under her own feet.

A week later (it's the 26 July, 1992) after the Mafia's massacre of Via d' Amelio, in an apartment of Rome probably alone and in a mental fragility, Rita approaches a window and jumps it. Her poor body will be found on the pavement under that window of the penultimate floor in via D'Amelio. She was only 17 years old.

Rita Atria (Partanna, 4 September 1974 – Rome, 26 July 1992)

Some time after the funeral, Rita's mother went to the cemetery with an hammer in her hand to break her daughter burial stone without mercy. That's the real Mafia! A lethal cancer capable to destroy even special rapports between mothers and daughters.Signature


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