Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Life and Times of the Sicilian Robin Hood

Bandit and Murderer, or Hero and Patriot?


"I live by my conscience and I do nothing anonymously.  I am willing to take full responsibility in the eyes of God and man for all that I do.  I have killed when it is just to do so, but never has Giuliano soiled his hands with blood for the sake of money."

Salvatore Giuliano, 1946 (Quoted in Maxwell, G.  Bandit.  1956)

A young man of twenty, handsome and fearless, was carrying two bags of grain from one Sicilian village to another.  The state police, the caribineri, ordered him to stop.  He was asked to produce his identity card.  He gave it to one of the officers, who commanded him to release his bags of grain.  The two argued. The young man protested that he was merely transporting food to the hungry people in his village, and the caribinere insisted that the young man reveal the source of his black-market grain. The young man felt threatened by the rifle that the frowning caribinere was pointing at him.  He drew a Beretta from his waist and fired at the officer.  Suddenly, the young man ran, leaving his identity card behind.  He was fired upon by the other officer, and fell to the ground.  The caribinere that he had shot was bleeding to death as the second officer fired again and hit the fleeing smuggler.  The young man dragged himself into the scruffy vegetation.  He was bleeding from a wound in his back.  Because the caribineri had his identity card, it was not necessary for the officer to pursue the wounded culprit.  It was another case of a black-market Sicilian peasant trying to avoid the authorities.  He would either die like a dog in the underbrush, or find some other peasant to nurse his wound.  They would find him soon enough.

Thus began the outlaw career of Salvatore Giuliano.  Not only would he become the most famous fugitive in Sicily, but he would become a legend that fascinated most of the western world for the next seven years.  A featured story with photographs appeared in Life.  Articles about him appeared a half a dozen times in Time.  Newspapers throughout Europe ran stories about his exploits almost daily.


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