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Top prosecutor in birthplace of the Mafia has one of the most dangerous jobs in the Western world

Gangland confidential: A made-in-Canada killing in the birthplace of the Mafia

Why, Pete? Why?

Sprawled across the front seat of a rental car in a ramshackle construction yard in Sicily and bleeding from a dozen bullet wounds, Juan Ramon Fernandez did not beg for his life or cry or shout or pray. A perfect gangster knows when and how he is going to die. He spent his final breath only voicing surprise at who was standing over him.

Why, Pete? Why?

The retort from the gunman at the open car door, nursing an injury of his own from the frantic ambush, was to lift his pistol once more, aim at Fernandezs head and fire a finishing round.

Fernandez did not learn the answer to his question that spring night in 2013 but a court in Palermo is now filling in the blanks.

PALERMO, SICILY There are things on the walls of Leonardo Aguecis fortified office that trigger giddy exuberance and there are things that turn his expressive face grave and dour. Hot Coupons! Daily updated on 99off Aliexpress with various niches. The best of Aliexpress

Among the clutter of mismatched frames, in the corner, is memorabilia of Inter Milan, one of Italys great soccer teams. Talk of Inter and his speech quickens, delivering a homily on recent struggles of a team with a glorious past.

Above his desk, however, is a wood-framed photograph of two former colleagues who were murdered for doing the same work Mr. Agueci does as the head of anti-Mafia prosecutions in Palermo, Sicily, the birthplace of the Mafia. Mention the photo of Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, both blown to bits in 1992, and Mr. Aguecis smile withers.

The very placement of the photo, hovering over him as he works and staring out at visitors, suggests he knows its power: a symbolic reminder that he holds one of the most daunting and dangerous jobs in the Western world.

If anyone forgot, last month brought a shock prompt: revelations from a senior Cosa Nostra informant that the Mafia is plotting a bomb attack using a shoulder-held rocket-launcher to assassinate a prosecutor working under Mr. Agueci.

For the Sicilian-born magistrate, the new threat harkens to the bad old days when vacancies in his office rarely came through retirement.

For a time, it was Mr. Falcone himself who toiled in this room, gathering evidence, approving investigations and directing prosecutions against accomplished traffickers, extortionists, killers and corruptors.

For all of the magistrates, Falcone and Borsellino are important points of reference not only because they died doing their job, but also for what they did during their lives as magistrates, Mr. Agueci says through a translator.

Mr. Agueci is the deputy director of Mafia prosecutors for the criminal court in Palermo, the number-two job title in a hierarchy that doesn't currently have a number one. In Mafia parlance, hes the underboss of a family that has no boss.

Mr. Aguecis office inside Palermos Il Palazzo di Giustizia, literally the palace of justice, requires passage through an airport-style security checkpoint. Outside his office a small corps of bodyguards lounges, perking up at the rare approach of a stranger.

Although it looks almost normal, his office door is inordinately heavy, clearly reinforced in some way, and a buzzer allows Mr. Agueci himself to decide when to unlock it.

Inside, he seems at ease, reclining deep into a chair. His face is invitingly open and what little hair remains is white. He quizzes a reporter amiably but probingly before opening himself up to scrutiny.

For those outside Italy, Mr. Aguecis situation can be difficult to grasp.

Via - news.nationalpost.com