Messina Denaro, Italy’s most wanted mafia boss, arrested after 30 years on the run

Rome: Italy’s No. 1 fugitive, convicted mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro, was arrested Monday at a private clinic in Palermo, Sicily, after being on the run for three decades, Italian paramilitary police said.

Messina Denaro was arrested at the clinic where he was being treated for an unknown illness, said Carabinieri General Pasquale Angelosanto, who heads the police special unit.

Top mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro, center, leaves an Italian Carabinieri barracks shortly after his arrest at a private clinic in Palermo, Sicily.

Top mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro, center, leaves an Italian Carabinieri barracks shortly after his arrest at a private clinic in Palermo, Sicily.Credit:Carabinieri via AP

Two Carabinieri officers, each holding an arm, escorted him down the front steps of the upmarket clinic on a gray morning and led him to a waiting black van. Immediately after the arrest, the police took him to a secret location, Italian state television reported.

He went into hiding as a young man and is now 60 years old. Messina Denaro, who had a power base in the western Sicilian port city of Trapani, was considered the head of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra even as a refugee.

He was the last of three longtime fugitives at the highest level of Mafia bosses who had eluded capture for decades, and hundreds of cops had been tasked with tracking him down over the years.

Messina Denaro, tried in absentia and convicted of dozens of murders, faces multiple life sentences.

Matteo Messina Denaro is transported in a van after being arrested in Sicily.

Matteo Messina Denaro is transported in a van after being arrested in Sicily.Credit:Carabinieri via Getty Images

He is to be jailed for two 1992 Sicily bombings in which leading anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, Falcone’s wife and several of her bodyguards, were murdered. Among other gruesome crimes for which he was convicted is the murder of a Mafia defector’s infant son, who was kidnapped and strangled before his body was dissolved in an acid barrel.

The arrest comes 30 years and a day after the January 15, 1993 arrest of convicted “boss of bosses” Salvatore “Toto” Riina in a Palermo apartment after 23 years on the run. Messina Denaro went into hiding in the summer of that year as the Italian state stepped up its crackdown on the Sicilian crime syndicate following the Falcone and Borsellino murders.

https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/italy-s-most-wanted-mafia-boss-messina-denaro-arrested-after-30-years-on-the-run-20230116-p5cd02.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_world Messina Denaro, Italy’s most wanted mafia boss, arrested after 30 years on the run

Callan Tansill

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