June 1, 2023
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Years of cat-and-mouse end as top mafioso cornered in Italian clinic

ROME — Italian investigators knew lots of issues about mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro.

He favored sporting designer garments, costly solar glasses and Rolex watches, he liked video video games and had a style for luxurious meals. He was additionally a ruthless killer who as soon as claimed to have murdered sufficient folks to fill a cemetery.

What they didn’t know was the place he was.

However on Monday, after 30 years on the run, essentially the most needed mafioso in Italy was lastly captured, seized in a personal clinic in the Sicilian capital Palermo after police discovered he was receiving therapy there for most cancers.

“It is a day of celebration when we can tell our children that the mafia can be beaten,” stated Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who flew straight to Sicily when information of the arrest broke, underlining the significance of the seize.

Messina Denaro was born in the southwestern Sicilian city of Castelvetrano in 1962, the son of a mafioso. He adopted his father into the mob and at 15 he was already carrying a gun. Police consider he carried out his first killing when he was 18.

The Castelvetrano clan was allied to the Corleonesi, headed by Salvatore “the Beast” Riina, who grew to become the undisputed “boss of bosses” because of his ruthless pursuit of energy.

Nicknamed “’U Siccu” (The Skinny One), Messina Denaro grew to become his protege and confirmed he may very well be simply as pitiless as his grasp, choosing up 20 life jail phrases in trials held in absentia for his function in an array of mob murders.

Particulars of his crimes emerged in the numerous court docket hearings.

Police say he was closely concerned in the planning of the 1992 murders of anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino – crimes that shocked the nation and sparked a crackdown that led to Riina’s arrest in 1993.

He was additionally held liable for subsequent bombings in Rome, Florence and Milan in 1993 that killed 10 folks in an apparently failed bid to power the federal government to halt its battle on the Sicilian mob, know as Cosa Nostra (Our Factor).

He was additionally discovered responsible of serving to organise the kidnapping of Giuseppe Di Matteo, 12, to attempt to dissuade the boy’s father from giving proof towards the mafia. The boy was held for 2 years earlier than he was strangled and his physique dissolved in acid.

Messina Denaro went into hiding in 1993 as a rising quantity of turncoats began offering particulars of his function in the mob. He communicated with different mafiosi through “pizzini”, small items of paper generally written in code distributed by messengers.

A mass of these notes was discovered in 2006 when police caught Bernardo Provenzano, who had led Cosa Nostra after Riina’s arrest. In a letter to a contact, Messina Denaro stated he couldn’t consider how careless Provenzano had been.

“When I receive a letter, even from family members, I reply as quickly as possible and immediately burn the one that arrived,” he wrote.

He by no means married, however was recognized to have a quantity of lovers. Denaro wrote that he had a daughter, however had by no means met her. He’s additionally believed to have a son, however little is understood about him.

As police repeatedly swept Sicily in search of clues about his whereabouts, extra correspondence emerged exhibiting they have been coping with somebody who noticed himself very in a different way to the way in which he was portrayed by his foes.

“I only care about being a fair man, I have made fairness my philosophy of life and I hope to die a fair man,” he wrote in a letter dated Feb. 1, 2005, discovered in an deserted hideout.

He quotes the bible and French author Daniel Pennac, amongst others, and laments the actual fact he had little formal training.

In an eavesdropped recording from jail, Riina is heard complaining about his one-time protege, apparently perturbed by information he was investing in wind farms and angered he hadn’t taken cost of the mafia, like he had.

“The only guy who could do something because he was straight… didn’t do anything,” Riina informed a fellow inmate.

Regardless of his notoriety, prosecutors have at all times doubted that Messina Denaro grew to become the “boss of bosses” after Provenzano’s seize, saying it was extra probably that he was merely the top of Cosa Nostra in western Sicily.

Nonetheless, the actual fact he managed to flee arrest for therefore a few years confirmed he had a fierce, loyal following.

Whispers surfaced final 12 months that he was significantly ailing and prosecutors lastly appear to have positioned him because of the actual fact he wanted common therapy at a Palermo clinic.

“We have not won the war, we have not defeated the mafia but this battle was a key battle to win, and it is a heavy blow to organised crime,” Prime Minister Meloni stated. – Reuters

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