Angelo Massaro, 21 years in prison as innocent: 'You have to give me back my life'

He spent most of his life in a cell, accused of killing his best friend. A film now tells about the judicial error and the rebirth. While there is still no compensation

  angel-massaro-today-38 Angelo Massaro, in prison as an innocent for 21 years

The injustices suffered make the emotions naked. And in fact, when Angelo Massaro tells him he does not mask anger, emotion, determination, pain, pride. He spent 21 of his 54 years in prison, from 1996 to 2017, accused of a murder, that of his best friend, which he did not commit. He was found innocent and released from prison after a rough battle, noted in a squared notebook on which he reported dates of petitions, deeds, letters to politicians, ministers, heads of state (from Ciampi to Mattarella). 'Sgarbi, Mussolini and the good soul of Valerio Onida replied, who gave me indications on how to ask for a review of the trial', says Massaro, protagonist of a docu-film, dead weight , of the Judicial Errors Association ( ) with the direction of Francesco Del Grosso, which will be presented in preview and in competition at the Visioni dal Mondo festival, on 18 September.

DOCUFILM ON HIS EXPERIENCE - The film retraces the stages of his return to life, along three lines: rebuilding his family; get rid of 'the stench of prison that others feel on me'; get an apology and compensation. «The prosecutor who investigated me is dead, none of the others apologized. To be wrong is human, to admit it is a duty. My sentence is the result of a ripple effect of errors, omissions, inferences about my wife, that she doesn't even have a fine. People think like Judge Davigo: you are not innocent, you are a culprit who got away with it. This is why I have been asking for a long time that the same carabinieri who held a press conference on the day of my arrest to announce the name of the guilty party, even before the trial, do another one to say that they were wrong. I do not bear a grudge, I know it would destroy me, it would be another condemnation. But I ask for an assumption of responsibility '.

IN PRISON BY CASE - Massaro ends up in prison for an interception in which, talking to his wife, he said that he would return late because he had to carry 'umuors', which in the Taranto dialect is a bulky object, a 'dead weight', in this specific case a mechanical shovel for work the land. In the transcription it will become 'umuort', the dead man. It is the beginning of an incredible series of errors that will lead to a process that is impossible to summarize (you can find everything on and to sentencing. In short, in Angelo's story, everything that he could go wrong did. Except the ending.

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IT HAD ALREADY SUCCESSED ONCE - As absurd as it is, Massaro has been imprisoned as an innocent twice. The first, in 1991: «Even then for murder, despite the fact that at the time of the crime I was in the square in Fragagnano, my city, involved in a car accident in front of many witnesses. I was arrested, I did a year of preventive prison, acquitted and compensated. The Carabinieri company was the same company that then investigated and arrested me in 1996. I was the perfect scapegoat, ”he says. The reference is to problems with drugs and dealing that Massaro had as a boy. At the time of the second arrest, however, his life was different: he had married Patrizia, they had had Antonio and Raffaele, two and a half years and 45 days when their father was taken to prison. “In the first of the seven prisons I went to, in Taranto, I made them come only once. Then no more because they searched them. Unacceptable. After that, I saw my family 3-4 times a year. In the last 9 years before my release, my children have never met them, for health reasons they could not come, I only heard them on the phone. The Ministry grants 10 minutes of phone calls per week: 180 seconds for each child, 120 seconds with my wife and 120 with my mother ».

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'OUT, IT WAS NO LONGER ME' - When the final sentence came in 2000, Massaro wrote a letter to his wife: 'Don't wait for me, make your life.' She goes to see him to tell him that he will stay instead. “I knew the prison, I knew what awaited me. She has decided to stay. And in those years she was my strength. Then, when we got together after release, we found ourselves strangers. We had changed, even if we keep a good relationship ». No one in the family has ever doubted his innocence, but this was not enough: «I went home and I didn't know my children. We still have to elaborate what happened, to find ourselves again. Sometimes they feel anger towards me. But not against the state: I taught them that justice is not the one that condemned me, but the one that recognized me as innocent. It is true that I have been in prison twice as innocent, but I was acquitted thanks to judges who did their job well ».
COMPENSATION - When his lawyers and the state come to an agreement, Massaro will be compensated. Meanwhile, he reconstructs: 'When I went to prison there was the lira, there were no social networks, no cell phones. The cell was my protective shell. At first, when I went out, I was confused even in front of the horizon, I had panic attacks, dizziness. I saw dangers everywhere: the first day I took refuge in a friend's house and I was locked up there for half a day. I didn't know how to use money, for the first two or three years I was a social misfit. My wife had to always accompany me, I could not go around alone ». And the job? “Nobody wanted me. So I tried to create it: I opened a fish shop. In 20 days, the Police, Carabinieri, Finance and Labor Inspectorate arrived. I had a worker for whom I had sent a job application to the union, but it had not yet been processed. They fined me 9,000 euros. I paid for it, closed it and filed a criminal case for that fine. Then I opened a beverage wholesale business. After Covid I sold it and now I work as an employee. I don't want any more thoughts ».