Mafia Boss Who Was Italy’s Number 1 Fugitive Arrested In Sicily
ROME – Italy’s No. 1 fugitive, convicted Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro, was arrested Monday at a private clinic in Palermo, Sicily, after three decades, Italian paramilitary police said.
Messina Denaro was captured at the clinic where he was being treated for an undisclosed medical condition, said Carabinieri General Pasquale Angelosanto, who heads the police force’s special operations team.
In a police photo showing him sitting in a police van, Messina Denaro was wearing a brown leather jacket and a white skull cap and his trademark tinted glasses. Her face looked thin. He was taken to a secret location by police immediately after his arrest, Italian state television reported.
A young man when he went into hiding, he is now 60. Messina Denaro, who had a power base in the port city of Trapani, in western Sicily, was considered the main leader of Sicily Cosa Nostra even though he was in exile.
He was the last of three fugitive high-level Mafia leaders who had been captured for decades.
Messina Denaro, tried in absentia and convicted of dozens of murders, is facing multiple life sentences.
He is expected to be jailed for two bombings in Sicily in 1992 that killed top anti-Mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. Among other heinous crimes for which he was convicted is the murder of a young son by a Mafia turncoat, who was strangled and his body dissolved in a pit of acid.
Monday’s arrest came 30 years and a day after the January 15, 1993, capture in 1993 of convicted “boss of bosses” Salvatore “Toto” Riina, in a Palermo apartment after 23 years away. Messina Denaro went into hiding in the summer of the same year, while the Italian state was cracking down on the Sicilian crime syndicate after the murders of Falcone and Borsellino.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni tweeted that the capture of Messina Denaro is a “great victory for the state, which shows that it is not surrendering against the Mafia.” “
The Italian Mafia boss who set the record for the longest time on the lam was Bernardo Provenzano, who was captured in a farmhouse near Corleone, Sicily, in 2006 after 38 years as a fugitive. Once Provenzano was in the hands of the police, the hunt focused on Messina Denaro, but despite several reports reported on the boss, he managed to get away from being arrested, until monday.
It will come as no surprise to Italian police and prosecutors that the three top commanders were eventually arrested in the heart of Sicily while leading a decades-long secret life. Law enforcement officials have long said that such leaders rely on the contacts and secrets of co-movers and extended family members to move the refugees from hideout to hideout, provision of basic needs, such as food and clean clothes and communication, and a code of silence known as “omerta.”
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