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Messina Denaro: Second Mafia boss bunker found by Italian police

  • Published
    10 hours ago

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Image source, REUTERS/Antonio Parrinello

A second hideout used by Italy’s most wanted mobster Matteo Messina Denaro has been discovered at the back of a wardrobe with a sliding base.

Italian police said jewellery, gemstones and silverware were found in the hidden chamber.

Empty paper boxes were also found, suggesting that potentially revealing documents were cleared out after Messina Denaro was arrested on Monday.

He had been attending a chemotherapy session at a private clinic in Sicily.

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Shortly after being apprehended, the Mafia boss was taken to a prison in L’Aquila, in the central Italian region of Abruzzo, where reports say he will continue to receive treatment for his cancer.

On Thursday, Messina Denaro declined to appear via videolink at a hearing on the 1992 killings of judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.

The killings are only two of the crimes Messina Denaro – a former boss of the powerful Cosa Nostra organised crime group – has been found guilty of.

Italian media reported that there are signs the second hideout – a small chamber barely big enough for one person – had been inhabited “recently”.

The bunker is in a house about 300m from the Mafia boss’s first hideout in the Sicilian town of Campobello di Mazara.

Car keys found in the bag Messina Denaro was carrying at the time of his arrest led investigators to that first location. Police raided the location on Monday afternoon and found a 60sq m ground floor flat, which was described as “comfortable”.

Italian media said that luxury perfumes, expensive furniture and designer clothes were found at the location, as well two cell phones and Viagra pills.

Police had been hunting the mafia chief for three decades when he was caught on Monday. He had made the appointment at the clinic under a false name.

The alias, Andrea Bonafede, aroused the suspicion of police when they realised it was the name of deceased Mafia boss Leonardo Bonafede’s nephew.

Phone-mapping showed the real Bonafede’s mobile was not in Palermo in 2020 and 2021 when a man using the name had surgery in the city.

During his time at the top of the Cosa Nostra organised crime syndicate, Messina Denaro oversaw racketeering, illegal waste dumping, money-laundering and drug-trafficking.

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He was convicted in absentia in 2002 of a string of murders.

Details of how Messina Denaro lived before his arrest have been starting to emerge.

He was living in an unassuming house in Campobello di Mazara, 116km (72 miles) from Palermo and just 8km from his birthplace of Castelvetrano.

A neighbour told Italian TV he frequently saw the man and that they would greet one another regularly.

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