Salvatore Giuliano was the Sicilian equivalent to Robin Hood during the 1940s. He would steal from the wealthy landlords and then distribute the goods between local peasants. Giuliano was also a devoted Sicilian nationalist and his greatest desire was that the island would become independent and that the Italian role would end. He once wrote to the American President Harry Truman to suggest that Sicily become one of the American states, such as his loathing of the Italian rule.
Prior to World War II, his devotion was for the peasants of Sicily. However, following the war, he switched his support to the landowners and the Mafia. He was trying to establish a guerrilla army and it was these groups who could offer him the funding he needed to achieve this. He continued to fight against both the government and the communists right up until his death.
In 1950, he was resisting arrest when the police shot him. This is the official explanation for his death but there has been speculation about this and theories of alternative causes of death. Tommaso Besozzi, a journalist, began an investigation which revealed that the official account of Giuliano’s death was not true. Besozzi discovered that Gaspare Pisciotta, a cousin and friend of Giuliano’s, had betrayed him to the -police in an exchange for a pardon. Bizarrely, four years later, Pisciotta also died in mysterious circumstances. He was poisoned while drinking a coffee in a Palermo prison.
As these strange events were revealed, more people began to devise conspiracy theories about Giuliano’s death. One was that Giuliano had faked his death and possibly fled to the United States. The theorists argue that it is not Giuliano who is buried in the grave as the body is far too short. Furthermore, on hearing of his death, both Giuliano’s sister and mother fainted. For this reason, there was never a formal identification of the body.
The investigation continued for a decade and even involved the exhumation of Giuliano’s body in 2012. DNA tests were conducted and these concluded that there was a 90% chance that the body in the grave was that of Salvatore Giuliano. However, others still argue that he is still alive somewhere in the world, but nobody is sure where.