WHAT place, if any, has humanity in a fight with barbarism? On June 5th such a question was posed in an unusual fashion in Italy when the country’s highest appeals court hinted that Salvatore “Totò” Riina should be freed to “die with dignity”. As the head of the Sicilian Mafia, Cosa Nostra, Mr Riina is credited with ordering or committing several hundred murders, including those in 1992 of two of Italy’s modern heroes, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, two anti-Mafia prosecutors.
The judges said a lower court’s rejection of an application for house arrest by Mr Riina (pictured) had not offered proof that he still posed a threat. The lower-court judges must now rewrite their verdict. If it is again judged unsatisfactory, the 86-year-old “godfather” could end his days in his home town of Corleone, in Sicily.