Italy’s most wanted mafia mobster Matteo Messina Denaro is arrested in Sicily after 30 years on the run: Cops swoop while Cosa Nostra Don was having ‘therapeutic treatment’ at hospital
- Italy’s most wanted mafia boss, Matteo Messina Dearo, has been arrested
- Italian police swooped in on a private hospital in the Sicilian capital of Palermo where Denaro had gone for treatment for an undisclosed medical condition
- Denaro has been sentenced in absentia to a life term for his role in the 1992 murders of anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino
Italy’s most wanted mafia boss, Matteo Messina Denaro, was today arrested in his native Sicily after 30 years on the run.
Italian police swooped in on a private hospital in the Sicilian capital of Palermo where Messina Denaro had gone for ‘therapeutic treatment’ for an undisclosed medical condition and arrested him.
Messina Denaro, now 60, was taken to a secret location by police immediately after his arrest.
Messina Denaro, a former trigger man who once boasted he could ‘fill a cemetery’ with his victims, is believed to have become the ‘boss of bosses’ following the death of Salvatore ‘The Beast’ Riina in November 2022.
Matteo Denaro, right, is seen in a car with Italian Carabinieri officers soon after his arrest at a private clinic in Palermo, Sicily, after 30 years on the run
Denaro has been sentenced in absentia to a life term for his role in the 1992 murders of anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.
He also faces a life sentence for his role in bomb attacks in Florence, Rome and Milan which killed 10 people the following year.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni hailed the arrest as ‘a great victory for the state that shows it never gives up in the face of the mafia’.
Messina Denaro had been number one on Italy’s most-wanted list but the only known photo of him dated back to the early 1990s.
The mafia boss, who has not been seen in decades after he went into hiding, was pictured after his arrest wearing sunglasses and a wooly heat while sat in the back of a car surrounded by Italian paramilitary police officers.
Even while a fugitive, Messina Denaro, who had a power base in western Sicily, was considered Sicily’s Cosa Nostra top boss.
Police said in September 2022 that Messina Denaro was still able to issue commands relating to the way the mafia was run in the area around the western Sicilian city of Trapani, his regional stronghold, despite his long disappearance.
In 2015, police discovered he was communicating with his closest collaborators via the pizzini system, where tiny, folded paper notes were left under a rock at a farm in Sicily.
Messina Denaro, who comes from the small town of Castelvetrano near Trapani, is accused by prosecutors of being solely or jointly responsible for numerous other murders in the 1990s.
Denaro has not been seen in public since the early 90s, but a new e-fit was created in 2014 with the help of another informant.
Italy’s most wanted mafia boss, Matteo Messina Denaro, has been arrested in his native Sicily after 30 years on the run. Pictured: A composite picture showing a computer generated image released by the Italian Police, right, and a picture of Mafia top boss Matteo Messina Denaro
He is wanted for a string of offences, and a judge found him guilty in his absence in 1993 for his part in the bomb attacks that killed 10 people in Rome, Florence and Milan.
In 1993 he helped organise the kidnapping of a 12-year-old boy, Giuseppe Di Matteo, in an attempt to dissuade his father from giving evidence against the mafia, prosecutors say.
The boy was held in captivity for two years before he was strangled and his body dissolved in acid.
Denaro also used a five-year-old girl to run secret handwritten messages between himself and other mafia top dogs.
Denaro used mafia informant Attilio Fogazza’s young daughter to run the memos.
Fogazza, who himself is on a murder charge, said in 2016 that Denaro’s second-in-command Domenico ‘Mimmo’ Scimonelli approached his daughter to send the messages.
The right-hand man had taken his daughter for an ice cream and put the messages inside her jacket and backpack.
The daughter and the rest of Fogazza’s family have been living in a secret location under police protection while he co-operates with the prosecutors as they attempt to bring down the ‘boss of bosses’ in the Italian mafia scene.
Fogazza ran a car dealership in south-western Sicily and decided to collaborate with Palermo investigators after he was arrested last December for the murder of Salvatore Lombardo in 2009 who was killed after he stole a van from Scimonelli.
‘One day my daughter said ‘Uncle Mimmo’ had taken her for a gelato and put the messages inside her jacket and her backpack,’ Fogazza told prosecutors in Palermo according to Italian media reports.
This is a breaking news story, more to follow…
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