Giuseppe Impastato was born on 5 January 1948 in Cinisi in the province of Palermo, into a mafia family. He was a Sicilian journalist and activist. 


His father Luigi had been sent into internal exile during the fascist era and was a close friend of a mafia boss, Gaetano Badalamenti. His father's brother-in-law, Cesare Manzella, was a major mafia boss who was killed in the car bomb attack in 1963.


Still an adolescent, he broke off relations with his father - who kicked him out of the house - and initiated a series of political and cultural anti-mafia activities. In 1965 he founded the newsletter "L'Idea Socialista" and joined the left-wing PSIUP party. From 1968 onwards he took a leading role in the activities of the new revolutionary groups. He leads struggles by Cinisi peasants whose land had been expropriated to build the third runway at Palermo airport, as well as disputes involving building workers and the unemployed. In 1975 he set up “Music and Culture” with other young people in Cinisi, a group that organized debates, film, theater and music shows. A self-financed radio station named Radio Aut is created in 1976, with which he exposes daily the crimes and dealings of mobsters from Cinisi and Terrasini, principally the mafia boss Gaetano Badalamenti, who were playing a major role in international drug trafficking through their control of the nearby airport. The most popular program was Crazy Waves, a satirical broadcast in which he mocked politicians and mobsters.


In 1978 he stood as a candidate in council elections for Proletarian Democracy but was killed during the election campaign on the night of 8-9 May, by a charge of TNT placed under his body, which had been stretched over the local railway line. (Two days later voters in Cinisi elected him as a councilor). Initially, the press, police and investigative magistrates talked about Giuseppe having been a terrorist carrying a bomb, who caused his death. Then, after the discovery of a letter written by Impastato several months before his death, they started talking about suicide. Thanks to the efforts of his brother Giovanni, his mother Felicia Bartolotta Impastato (who publicly break off relations with their mafia relatives), his fellow activists, and the Centro Siciliano di documentation (founded in Palermo in 1977; Giuseppe Impastato's name was added to its masthead in 1980), the mafia's responsibility for the crime is identified. And based on all the evidence collected and the public accusations which were made, the case was reopened.

On 9 May 1979, the Centro Siciliano di documentation and Proletarian Democracy organized the first national demonstration against the mafia in Italy's history, in which 2,000 people came from all over the country. In May 1984 the Court of Palermo issued a judgment (in line with the investigations carried out by Rocco Chinnici, a member of the first pool of anti-mafia investigative magistrates who had been murdered in July 1983) confirming the mafia's responsibility for the crime, attributing it however to persons unknown. In 1986 the Centro Impastato published a biography of Giuseppe's mother called "La mafia in casa mia" (Living with the mafia), and a dossier entitled Notissimi Ignoti (Very well-known persons), in which Gaetano Badalamenti was identified as the instigator of the murder. Badalamenti, meanwhile,


In May 1992 the Court of Palermo, whilst recognizing the mafia's responsibility for the murder, decided to end their investigations as they believed it impossible to identify the perpetrators. In May 1994 the Centro Impastato, supported by a sizeable petition, demanded that the case be reopened and that a new supergrass from the Cinisi mafia named Salvatore Palazzolo is questioned over Impastato's murder. In March 1996 Giuseppe Impastato's brother and mother, and the Centro Impastato, presented a dossier in which it was argued that obscure events be investigated - in particular, the role of the carabinieri police force immediately after the crime.

Following a statement made by Palazzolo, in which he named Badalamenti as the instigator of the murder, the investigation was formally reopened in June 1996, and in November the following year, an arrest warrant was issued for Badalamenti. 


In 1998 a committee was formed within Parliament's permanent anti-mafia commission to investigate the 'Impastato case'; and on 6 December 2000, it issued a report which outlined the responsibilities of State officials in leading the investigations astray. On 5 March 2001, the Court of Assises declared Vito Palazzolo to be guilty of murder, handing down a thirty-year sentence. And Gaetano Badalamenti was given a life sentence on 11 April 2002.