Paolo Borsellino was born in Palermo, January 19, 1940 in the old Arab quarter called Kalsa; both of his parents were pharmacists.  After high school he enrolled in the faculty of law at the University of Palermo where he was elected representative of the Fuan student movement and graduated Cum Laude at 22 years old.  He became a member of the provincial executive and was delegate at the provincial congress.

Days after his graduation, his father died, and he found himself as the only provider for his family. Thanks to him the pharmacy was kept open and passed on to his sister upon her graduation.   His love for Sicily and the law motivated him and, still responsible for his family, he enrolled in the course to become public prosecutor and, while keeping   himself with part-time jobs and tutoring, in 1963 he graduated as magistrate.
In 1965, he was a judicial listener in Enna. Two years later he became judge in Mazara del Vallo.

He married in 1968, and in 1969 was transferred to Monreale, where he met Emanuele Basile who became a close collaborator. In 1975, he was transferred to Palermo; in July he began to investigate the first cases of Mafia under the wing of Rocco Chinnici. From then on, together with his close collaborator, he began his fight to defeat organized crime.

In 1980 six mafiosi were arrested but, later in the same year, his close collaborator and Captain of the Carabineri, Emanuale Basile, was killed. From then on he and his family were placed under 24-hour protection. Their daily lives were never the same.

This is how Paolo Borsellino was described by his superiors: “Smart, serious, reserved, dignified, and especially capable for investigative work; he settles about 400 procedures per year. On March 5, he was promoted to the Superior Council of Magistrates, while continuing on with his role, showing once more his exceptional qualities as public prosecutor and, more so, as investigative judge.

A team of four public prosecutors was formed: Falcone, Borsellino, Barile and Rocco Chinici who headed the group. They realized that, if things were to change, they had to change people’s mindsets and they must also have the support of young people. They wanted to awaken the conscience of people, shake them and have them on their side; in other words, they wanted their trust. Falcone and Borsellino were aware of the immense importance of having the people on their side if they wanted to forever defeat the mafia.

To that end, Borsellino organized and participated in debates in schools, public squares and youth festivals. Educating young people about organized crime became a mission and, whatever free time he had available, he used for that purpose and spurred them on to join the fight against the mafia.
They requested a coordinate panel of investigative judges, a stronger judicial police, new rules for picking juries, and permission to trace the bank accounts of mafiosi. The panel of magistrates wanted to be assisted by the State, as their work increased and they couldn’t keep up.

And then, on August 4, 1983, Rocco Chinnici was killed, affecting Borsellino’s will to continue; the panel’s leader, the reference point was no more. Chinnici’s position was filled by Judge Caponnetto and the panel continued its work and its first results started to come in. In 1984, the mafia boss Vito Ciancimino was arrested; Tommaso Buscetta began to cooperate. Borsellino stressed at all times the fundamental importance of the collaboration of ex- mafiosi in preparing for trials.
During the preparation for the maxi-trial, the Chief of Police, Beppe Montana was killed. To avoid the same fate and to complete the preparation for the trial, Falcone and Borsellino were immediately sent to the Island of Asinara.

When the trial began, the public started to criticize the magistrates, the body guards assigned to them and the tasks they had given themselves. The preliminaries of the trial against “Cosa Nostra” were concluded. Giovanni Falcone, Leonardo Guarnotta, Giuseppe Di Lello Filinoli asked and received, without the required seniority, but on merit and professional experience, their transfers to where the trial was being held.

Paolo Borsellino lived at the station of the Carabinieri. He was helped by Diego Cavaliero, an admirer of Borsellino. Borsellino feared that, at the end of the trial, public attention on the mafia would lessen.  He kept on requesting the involvement of the State, exhorted civil society to stay mobilized, to keep attention on the mafia, and to prevent things from returning as if nothing had happened. The trial had generated public support, but things eventually began to change, and public support weakened.

In 1987, for health reasons, their leader and reference point, Caponnetto, was forced to resign. People expected Giovanni Falcone to take his place but that was not to be. CSM was not of the same idea and the fear of losing the team increased. Borsellino realized he must get involved politically.  He started an information campaign by attending talk shows, writing newspaper articles, and attending conferences. He was threatened with disciplinary sanction, but Cossiga, President of Italy, stopped the sanction and asked for an inquiry to shine some light on what was happening in Palermo’s Court of Justice.
On July 31, CSM wanted to hear from Borsellino. He maintained the same accusations and doubts. But in September, CSM appointed Antonio Meli to Caponnetto’s former position in place of Falcone. Borsellino went back to his job in Marsala. Younger magistrates heeded his messages and joined his struggle against organized crime. Many more mafiosi were collaborating, and the links between mafia and politicians were investigated. Paolo Borsellino was more convinced than ever about the fundamental role of the collaborators.  He stressed that every allegation needed to be investigated, re-investigated and proven before being acted upon. The long and painstaking work eventually produced results, but criticism of Borsellino increased steadily, and lies about him and Falcone began circulating.

A decade of struggle against a bureaucracy that, more often than not, seemed to be collaborating with organized crime followed. Falcone and Borsellino seemed to be excluded from key roles in the fight against the mafia. A super committee with special powers was being formed and Falcone, who was, by many, considered to be its natural leader, was disappointed. Borsellino, once again, made the media rounds. He and Falcone fear the super committee might be taken over by the wrong people.

In May 1992, Falcone is proclaimed leader of the super organization. The two judges celebrated the event. However, the next day, Falcone, his wife and the body guards were back in Sicily from Rome and, on their way to Capaci from the airport, are blown up in their car by an incredibly huge bomb.

Paolo Borsellino is shaken to the core. The person with whom he shared so many important moments in the struggle against organized crime had been mercilessly murdered. Two different personalities, yet supportive of each other:  Giovanni, rational and cool and, Paolo, passionate and impetuous; both charismatic.

Paolo is asked to take over Giovanni’s job in Rome, but he declined. He stayed in Palermo, and continued the fight against the mafia even though things were different and he sensed his time was coming.

He collaborated with the bombing investigation and finally received permission to interrogate the mafia’s turncoats Messina and Mutolo on July 19, 1992.  That afternoon a car bomb exploded in front of the house on Via D’Amelio; Borsellino and his bodyguards are all dead. It’s July 19, 1992.

The bodyguards were Agostino Catalano, Vincenzo Li Muli, Walter Cosina, Claudio Traina ed Emanuela Loi, first policewoman to die at the hands of the mafia.