Out of hiding

‘Candidate without a face’ wins seat in Parliament after ‘surreal’ election victory

Piera Aiello. (Twitter / Corriere della Sera)

An Italian woman who hasn’t shown her face publicly in 27 years has been elected as a MP for the Five Star Movement, the upstart populist party that dominated the vote during Italy’s recent elections. Piera Aiello, who has been in hiding from the Italian Mafia for decades, took 51 percent of the vote in her native Sicily, where she had became known as “the candidate without a face.” While running for office, she commonly gave TV interviews with a scarf over her face or allowed cameras to only show her from behind to conceal her identity out of fears that Mafia operatives would find and assassinate her. Local media reportedly characterized her unlikely campaign and victory as “surreal.”

As a teen, Aiello was forced to marry the son of a Cosa Nostra Mafia don. After the don was murdered, her husband sought to avenge his father only to be gunned down himself by a rival family in 1991. With her father-in-law and husband dead, Aiello fled Sicily and gave information about the Cosa Nostra mafia to police in return for protection. Since then, Aiello has lived in hiding, conducting a life not unlike someone who enters the witness protection program in the U.S.. One of the investigating magistrates Aiello initially spoke to, Paolo Borsellino, was assassinated in a car bombing in 1992 — just a year after she first escaped Sicily.

But following her victory, Aiello, 51, said she no longer plans to conceal her identity.

Piera Aiello.

“I’m going to come out of hiding,” she said. “It will be like seeing the light again.” She also reportedly dedicated her remarkable electoral win to Borsellino. “I dedicate it to Uncle Paolo [Borsellino],” she said, according to the local news website Articolo Ventuno. “When I left Sicily, he said to me: ‘Take Sicily and tear it, forget it’. Today I thought, ‘maybe this time you were wrong, dear Uncle Paul.’”

Read the full story at The Telegraph.


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