Matteo Messina Denaro, an armed police officer in Sicily, was taken into custody at a private hospital on Monday 16 January. The man was being treated for cancer and has been in hiding since 1993.
Messina Denaro was known as “Diabolik”, or “U Siccu”, for his participation in the 1992 murders of anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. These crimes shocked the nation, prompting a crackdown on Cosa Nostra.
Messina Denaro (60 years old) was taken by two uniformed police carabinieri from Palermo’s “La Maddalena” hospital and then loaded into a waiting van. He was wearing a brown fur-lined jacket, glasses, and a brown woolly cap.
According to court sources, he was being treated with cancer. He underwent an operation in January, and continued to receive appointments under a false name.
“We had a clue, and we followed that through until today’s imprisonment,” Palermo prosecutor Maurizio di Lucia stated.
The investigation into Messina’s denaro was also handled by Magistrate Paolo Guido. After years of hard work, he stated that the key to the success was in dismantling his network protectors.
A second man was arrested on the spot for driving Messina denaro from the hospital. He was suspected of aiding an escaped criminal.
Images shared on social media showed locals cheering as they shook hands with officers wearing balaclavas, while Messina Denaro’s minivan was driven from the suburban hospital to a secret location.
Giorgia was the Italian Prime Minister and traveled to Sicily in order to felicitate the police chiefs after the arrest.
She said that even though we haven’t won the war against the mafia or defeated them, it was a decisive battle and a major victory of organised crime.
Maria Falcone, the sister of the murdered judge, echoed these sentiments.
She stated that it proved mafiosi were, despite their delusions about their omnipotence.
FAST CARS, FLASHY COLLOTHES
Messina Denaro hails from Castelvetrano in western Sicily. She is the daughter a mafia boss.
Police said last September that he was still able to issue commands concerning the activities of the mafia in the area around Trapani. This was his stronghold.
Before hiding out, he was well known for his love of expensive cars and preference for Rolex watches and finely tailored suits.
He faces life imprisonment for his role in the 1993 bombings in Milan, Florence, and Rome that resulted in 10 deaths. Prosecutors accuse him also of being jointly and solely responsible for numerous other murders in the 1990s.
Prosecutors allege that he participated in the 1993 kidnapping, murder and assassination of Giuseppe Di Matteo (13 years old), to stop his father giving evidence against him. The boy was captured and taken to prison two years later. His body was then dissolved in acid.
This arrest comes almost 30 years after Salvatore “Toto”, the most powerful boss of the Sicilian mafia, was taken into police custody. In 2017, he was sentenced to death for violating his code silence.
Gian Carlo Caselli was Palermo’s prosecutor when Riina was detained. He said that it was an extraordinary event and of historic significance.
Italy faces many challenges in controlling organized crime groups that reach far and wide, despite all its optimism.
Experts believe that Cosa Nostra, the most powerful organized crime organization in Italy, was overthrown by .
Professor of Criminology at Oxford University Federico Varese said that there is a sense that the Sicilian Mafia is less powerful now than in the past.
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