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Matteo Messina Denaro, ruthless mob boss and longtime fugitive, dies at 61

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Matteo Messina Denaro, a convicted mastermind of a number of the Sicilian Mafia’s most heinous slayings, has died in an Italian hospital jail ward, a number of months after being captured as Italy’s No. 1 fugitive and following many years on the run. He was 61.

Italian prosecutors introduced the demise on Monday, which occurred at a hospital within the central Italian metropolis of L’Aquila. He was reported to have had colon most cancers, amongst different illnesses.

Reputed by investigators to be one of many Mafia’s strongest bosses, Mr. Messina Denaro had been dwelling whereas a fugitive in western Sicily, his stronghold, throughout at least a lot of his 30 years of eluding regulation enforcement due to the assistance of complicit townspeople. His want for colon most cancers therapy led to his seize on Jan. 16.

Investigators had been on his path for years and had found proof that he was receiving chemotherapy as an outpatient at a Palermo clinic underneath an alias. Digging into Italy’s nationwide well being system database, they tracked him down and took him into custody when he confirmed up for a therapy appointment.

His arrest got here 30 years and a day after the Jan. 15, 1993, seize of the Mafia’s “boss of bosses,’’ Salvatore “Toto” Riina in a Palermo condominium, additionally after many years in hiding. Mr. Messina Denaro himself went into hiding later that 12 months.

While a fugitive, Mr. Messina Denaro was tried in absentia and convicted of dozens of murders, together with serving to to plan, together with different Cosa Nostra bosses, a pair of 1992 bombings that killed Italy’s main anti-Mafia prosecutors — Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.

Prosecutors had hoped in useless he would collaborate with them and reveal Cosa Nostra secrets and techniques. (*61*) based on Italian media experiences, Mr. Messina Denaro made clear he wouldn’t discuss instantly after seize. After his arrest, he started serving a number of life sentences in a top-security jail in L’Aquila.

His silence hewed to the examples of Riina and of the Sicilian Mafia’s different high boss, Bernardo Provenzano, who was captured in a farmhouse in Corleone, Sicily, in 2006, after 37 years in hiding — the longest time on the run for a Mafia boss. Once Provenzano was in police fingers, the state’s hunt targeted on Mr. Messina Denaro, who managed to elude arrest regardless of reported sightings of him.

Dozens of lower-level Mafia bosses and foot troopers did flip state’s proof following a crackdown on the Sicilian syndicate sparked by the assassinations of Falcone and Borsellino, bombings that additionally killed Falcone’s spouse and a number of police bodyguards.

Among Mr. Messina Denaro’s a number of homicide convictions was one for the slaying of the younger son of a turncoat. The boy was kidnapped and strangled, and his physique was dissolved in a vat of acid.

Mr. Messina Denaro was additionally amongst a number of Cosa Nostra high bosses who had been convicted of ordering bombings in 1993 that focused two church buildings in Rome, the Uffizi Galleries in Florence and an artwork gallery in Milan. A complete of 10 individuals had been killed within the Florence and Milan bombings.

The assaults in these three vacationer cities, based on turncoats, had been aimed at pressuring the Italian authorities into easing inflexible jail situations for convicted mobsters.

When Mr. Messina Denaro was arrested, Palermo’s chief prosecutor, Maurizio De Lucia, declared: “We have captured the last of the massacre masterminds.”

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