Mon, 06 Feb 2023

Italy arrests mafia boss after 30-year pursuit

Robert Besser
19 Jan 2023, 20:29 GMT+10

ROME, Italy: After three decades on the run, Matteo Messina Denaro, Italy's No. 1 fugitive and a Mafia boss convicted of helping to mastermind some of the nation's most heinous slayings, was arrested this week when he sought treatment at a private clinic in Sicily.

Denaro was tried in absentia and convicted of dozens of murders, including helping to mastermind, along with other Cosa Nostra bosses, a pair of 1992 bombings that killed top anti-Mafia prosecutors - and led the Italian state to stiffen its crackdown on the Sicilian crime syndicate. He faces multiple life sentences that he is expected to serve in a maximum security prison and under the particularly restrictive conditions reserved for top organized crime bosses.

He went into hiding a year after those bombings while still a young man.He is now 60, and his health condition helped investigators zero in on him, according to Carabinieri Gen. Pasquale Angelosanto, who heads the police force's special operations squad.

"It all led to today's date (when) he would have come for some tests and treatment" at the clinic, the Carabinieri general said.

Authorities did not say what he was being treated for, but he was captured at La Maddalena clinic in Palermo, an upscale medical facility with a reputation for treating cancer patients. Italian media said he was undergoing treatment for a year.

"He didn't resist at all," Carabinieri Col. Lucio Arcidiacono told reporters.

In addition to convictions for the killings of prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, he was also found guilty of killing Falcone's wife and several of their bodyguards as well as the grisly murder of a Mafia turncoat's young son, who was abducted and strangled before his body was dissolved in a vat of acid.

He also was among Cosa Nostra bosses convicted of ordering a series of bombings in 1993 that caused fatalities and damaged the Uffizi Galleries in Florence, two major churches in Rome and an art gallery in Milan.

"We captured the last of the massacre masterminds" of the 1992-1993 Mafia killings, prosecutor De Lucia said. "It was a debt that the Republic owed to the victims of those years."

Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni tweeted that Messina Denaro's capture is a "great victory of the state, which shows that it doesn't surrender in the face of the Mafia."

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