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Italian mafia boss arrested after 30 years on the run

Italy’s most wanted mafia boss, on the run for three decades, has been arrested at a private hospital in the Sicilian capital of Palermo, police said.

Prosecutors say Matteo Messina Denaro is a Sicilian mob boss Cosa Nostra. The chief of the Carabinieri Police Special Operations Team said Messina Denaro was captured Monday at the clinic where he was receiving treatment for an undisclosed medical condition.

Messina Denaro had been sentenced in absentia to a life sentence for his role in the 1992 murders of anti-Mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.

He also faces a life sentence for his role in the bombings in Florence, Rome and Milan that killed 10 people the following year.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni hailed the arrest as “a great victory for the state which shows that it never gives up in the face of the mafia”.

In August 2021, the Italian public television channel Rai aired a recording from March 1993 in which Messina Denaro’s voice was first identified during a trial in which he was called to testify. After a few weeks, the boss fled and has not been found since.

Police said in September 2022 that Messina Denaro was still able to issue orders regarding how the Mafia was run in the area around the western Sicilian town of Trapani, its regional stronghold, despite its long disappearance.

Messina Denaro, from the small town of Castelvetrano near Trapani, is accused by prosecutors of being alone or jointly responsible for numerous other murders in the 1990s.

In 1993, he allegedly helped organize the kidnapping of a 12-year-old boy, Giuseppe Di Matteo, in an attempt to dissuade his father from testifying against the Mafia, prosecutors say. The boy was held captive for two years before being strangled and his body dissolved in acid.

A young man when he went into hiding, he is now 60 years old. Messina Denaro, who had a power base in the western Sicilian port city of Trapani, was considered the leader of the Cosa Nostra in Sicily, even while on the run.

Messina Denaro was the last of three high profile fugitive mafia bosses who had evaded capture for decades. His arrest comes 30 years and a day after the capture of the “boss of bosses” Salvatore “Toto” Riina, in an apartment in Palermo after 23 years on the run.


The Independent Gt

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