- Cosa Nostra boss captured after 30 years
- Detained at non-public hospital in Palermo
- Convicted for his half in killing anti-mafia prosecutors
After 30 years, Italy arrests mafia boss Messina Denaro at Sicilian hospital
PALERMO, Italy, Jan 16 (Reuters) – Italy’s most wished mafia boss, Matteo Messina Denaro, was arrested by armed police at a personal hospital in Sicily on Monday, the place the person who has been on the run since 1993 was being handled for most cancers.
Nicknamed “Diabolik” and “‘U Siccu” (The Skinny One), Messina Denaro had been sentenced in absentia to a life time period for his function within the 1992 murders of anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, crimes that shocked the nation and sparked a crackdown on Cosa Nostra.
Messina Denaro, 60, was led away from Palermo’s “La Maddalena” hospital by two uniformed carabinieri police and bundled right into a ready black minivan. He was sporting a brown fur-lined jacket, glasses and a brown and white woolly hat.
Judicial sources mentioned he was being handled for most cancers and had an operation final yr, adopted by a collection of appointments underneath a false title.
“We had a clue to the investigation and adopted it by means of to as we speak’s arrest,” Palermo prosecutor Maurizio de Lucia mentioned.
Justice of the Peace Paolo Guido, who was additionally in command of investigations into Messina Denaro, mentioned dismantling his community of protectors was key in reaching the outcome following years of labor.
A second man who had pushed Messina Denaro to the hospital was arrested on the scene on suspicion of aiding a fugitive.
Photos on social media confirmed locals applauding and shaking fingers with police in balaclavas because the minivan carrying Messina Denaro was pushed away from the suburban hospital to a secret location.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni travelled to Sicily to congratulate police chiefs after the arrest.
“We have now not received the warfare, we now have not defeated the mafia however this battle was a key battle to win, and it’s a heavy blow to organised crime,” she mentioned.
Maria Falcone, sister of the murdered choose, echoed that sentiment.
“It proves that mafiosi, regardless of their delusions of omnipotence, are finally doomed to defeat within the battle with the democratic state,” she mentioned.
FAST CARS, FLASHY CLOTHES
Messina Denaro comes from the city of Castelvetrano close to Trapani in western Sicily, and is the son of a mafia boss.
Police mentioned final September that he was nonetheless in a position to problem instructions regarding the way in which the mafia was run within the space round Trapani, his regional stronghold.
Earlier than he went into hiding, he was recognized for driving costly automobiles and his style for sporting finely tailor-made fits and Rolex watches.
He faces a life sentence for his function in bomb assaults in Florence, Rome and Milan that killed 10 individuals in 1993 and is accused by prosecutors of being solely or collectively accountable for quite a few different murders within the Nineteen Nineties.
In 1993 he helped organise the kidnapping of a 12-year-old boy, Giuseppe Di Matteo, in an try and dissuade his father from giving proof in opposition to the mafia, prosecutors say. The boy was held in captivity for 2 years earlier than he was strangled and his physique dissolved in acid.
The arrest comes virtually 30 years to the day since police arrested Salvatore “Toto” Riina, the Sicilian Mafia’s strongest boss of the twentieth century. He finally died in jail in 2017, having by no means damaged his code of silence.
“It’s a unprecedented occasion, of historic significance,” mentioned Gian Carlo Caselli, who was a prosecutor in Palermo on the time of Riina’s arrest.
Regardless of the euphoria, Italy nonetheless faces a battle to rein in organised crime teams whose tentacles stretch far and extensive.
Specialists say that Cosa Nostra has been usurped by the ‘Ndrangheta, the Calabrian mafia, as probably the most highly effective organised crime group in Italy.
“There’s a sense that the Sicilian Mafia shouldn’t be as robust because it was once, particularly because the 90s, they’ve actually been unable to enter the drug market and so they’re actually second-fiddle to the ‘Ndrangheta on that,” mentioned Federico Varese, Professor of Criminology at Oxford College.
extra reporting by Angelo Amante and Alvise Armellini, writing by Keith Weir and Cristina Carlevaro, enhancing by Gavin Jones, Nick Macfie and Alex Richardson
Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Belief Ideas.