ROME -- Italy has granted witness-protection status -- and a $250 monthly stipend -- to a notorious Mafia boss who killed a crusading prosecutor and had a rival's son dissolved in a vat of acid.
Giovanni Brusca -- a Sicilian boss nicknamed "The Slaughterer" -- claimed responsibility in a prison memoir last year for more than 100 other killings.Crimes to which he confessed include pushing the button on a bomb that killed revered anti-Mafia prosecutor Giovanni Falcone and four others in May 1992.
The killings outraged Italy and pushed a major 1990s crackdown on the Mafia.
"It's like they've killed Giovanni all over again. The truth is his death was for nothing," Anna Falcone, sister of the slain crusader, said Saturday at news of Brusca's entry into the witness-protection program.
The head of Italy's anti-Mafia commission, Ottaviano Del Turco, called a special meeting for Tuesday to hear the witness-protection committee's explanation for its decision.
Brusca was convicted in 1998 and is serving a 21-year sentence for murder and arms and drugs smuggling. He will receive a $250 stipend while in prison in exchange for testimony against former criminal colleagues.
Italy calls such turncoats "pentiti."
In the mid-1990s, Brusca ordered the son of a turncoat rival kidnapped when the man began cooperating with prosecutors against Brusca.
In 1996, Brusca saw the news on TV that he had been convicted in absentia, and ordered the 11-year-old strangled and dissolved in acid.