Politicians and relatives of Mafia victims alike have voiced outrage in Italy as the convicted son of Cosa Nostra's most notorious boss is set to appear on primetime national television to promote his book. The state-run Rai Uno channel is set to air an interview with Giuseppe Salvatore Riina, son of Salvatore 'Totò' Riina, whose reign of terror in the 1980s and early 1990s gained him the nicknames of the Beast and Il Capo dei Capi – The Boss of Bosses.
Maria Falcone, sister of late prosecutor Giovanni Falcone – who was murdered upon Riina's orders – said she was "dismayed" at the decision, which she described as and unworthy of a public channel.
During the interview on Porta a Porta, Giuseppe Salvatore, 38, is said to have repeatedly refused to condemn or comment on his father's numerous crimes.
Rosy Bindi, the head an anti-mafia parliamentary committee, threatened to summon Rai Uno's editor and CEO if the broadcast goes ahead as planned. "We will have confirmation that Porta a Porta has become a platform for Mafia negationism," she said.
Porta a Porta had already faced a barrage of criticism last year for hosting members of a Rome crime family involved in controversy over a Godfather-style lavish funeral parade.
The fresh controversy comes as the autobiography of Giuseppe Salvatore is about to hit bookshelves. Titled Riina Family Life, the tome tells of growing up in Mafia's most infamous family with a fugitive father that his then then teenage son hailed as a "hero".
It depicts moments of the boss's private life, while assassinations and Mafia dealings remain on the background. In another interview with Il Corriere della Sera, Giuseppe Salvatore told of how he and his father used to stay up at night eating cookies on the sofa while watching an Italian team compete in the 1992 America's Cup.
That same year Riina was waging an all-out war against authorities with a series of high-profile murders, including the shooting of Sicilian MP Salvo Lima and the bombings that killed Falcone and his colleague Paolo Borsellino.
"I was almost 15 and he, Totò Riina, was my hero," Giuseppe Salvatore said. "I respect my father because we never lacked anything, especially love". Riina was eventually arrested in 1993 and is serving a life sentence at Milan's Opera prison. Giuseppe Salvatore also served time for Mafia-related crimes and is currently on probation.