I 100 passi (The Hundred Steps), directed by Marco T. Giordana, 2000

Once lived a young man called Giuseppe Impastato, “Peppino” for friends. He was from a small town in Sicily called Cinisi. Cinisi was in the hands of the Mafia and Peppino’s house was only a hundred steps away from the house of the local boss, Gaetano Badalamenti.

My eyes lie at the bottom of the sea/ in the heart of the seaweeds and the corals (words by Peppino).

Peppino was an activist, an Antifascist and a Communist, but not one of those who do what the Party says and that’s it. He wanted to change Cinisi and Sicily, he wanted to challenge the locals’ terror  of the Mafia. He hated the Mafia since he was a kid, even though his own father was connected to it. So Peppino and his friends brought about a radio station, Radio Aut, on which they would talk about their everyday lives in Cinisi. They told tales of corruption and politicians’ connections with the Mafia, of illegal building developments and other dodgy maneuvers that were making the Mafia richer. Peppino was very ironic and loved to make fun of the Mafia on the radio. He called Cinisi “Mafiopolis”. He would say things like “the Mafia is a mountain of shit”.

Radio Aut became known. People from other parts of Italy heard about it, and some of them even went to Cinisi to meet Peppino and the others. Gaetano Badalamenti wasn’t very happy about this, though. He didn’t find Peppino very funny. He didn’t like the attention that Peppino and the radio were bringing to him. He detested being made fun of. Mafia people don’t like nor understand irony at all. He told Peppino’s father to “have a word” with his son, but Peppino wasn’t one who could be bought or scared off, even by his own father.

So one day in May 1978 Peppino took his car to go home after recording at the radio, but he never got there. He was stopped near a rail crossing, dragged out of his car, beaten up and tied to the railway tracks. Some TNT was then tied around his body, and he was left there, to be run over by the next train.

Too long is the night/ timeless/ endless (words by Peppino).

For a while the police team investigating the case said Peppino had killed himself. After a long, absurd trial Gaetano Badalamenti was recognised as instigator of the murder in 2002.

Some links for more info on Peppino’s life from the Centro Impastato (antimafia cultural centre founded by his friends), and Wikipedia.


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