Messina Denaro - Italy's most wanted man - arrested on Sicily

Italy’s most wanted man arrested after 30 years on the run

By Region News The Islands

Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro, Italy’s most wanted man, has been arrested by the Carabinieri police’s ROS unit after 30 years on the run. He was arrested inside the day hospital of a private clinic in Palermo and did not put up resistance.

Premier Giorgia Meloni hailed Denaro’s arrest as a “great victory for the State”. Noting that it happened the day after the anniversary of late Cosa Nostra boss-of-bosses Totò Riina’s arrest in 1993, she said it shows that the State “does not give up in the face of the Mafia”.

“My warmest thanks and those of the entire government go to the police forces, in particular to the Carabinieri Ros section, the National Anti-Mafia Prosecutor’s Office, and the Palermo Prosecutor’s Office, for the capture of the most significant figure in the mafia,” she added.

“The government will make sure that the fight against mafia crime continues without respite, as demonstrated by the fact that this executive’s first measure – the defence of the ‘carcere ostativo’ (tough prison regime for mafia convicts) – concerned precisely this matter.”

On the run since 1993

The 60-year-old mobster, aka Diabolik, had been on the run since 1993.

He had been having treatment at the clinic, which is called ‘La Maddalena’, for over a year. Messina Denaro was taken to the San Lorenzo Carabinieri barracks in Palermo after the operation.

Other patients clapped and shouted “Bravi!” (well done) during the arrest.

Messina Denaro got his nickname from the Italian comic book character Diabolik. He was a masked superthief anti-hero and was seen by some experts as the boss of bosses within the Mafia after the deaths of Bernardo ‘The Tractor’ Provenzano in 2016 and ‘The Beast’ Riina in 2017. Other mafia experts say he was not at the very summit of Mafia power. However, they have not been able to say who occupies that post; possibly because it is vacant.

Giovanni Falcone’s assassination was ordered by then boss of bosses Riina with the agreement of former co-boss Provenzano. In 2020, Messina Denaro was also convicted of complicity in greenlighting the 1992 bombings that killed Falcone, and his friend and colleague Paolo Borsellino two months later. The bombs, which also killed Falcone ‘s wife and members of both prosecutors’ security details, sparked a strong reaction from the State.

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Messina Denaro was also wanted for the murder of Giuseppe Di Matteo, the 12-year-old son of a mobster-turned-State witness who was strangled and dissolved in acid in 1996, as well as fatal bombings of art sites in Milan, Florence and Rome in 1993.

Reportedly idolised by Cosa Nostra’s younger troops because of his ruthlessness and playboy-like charisma, Messina Denaro sealed a reputation for brutality by murdering a rival Trapani boss and strangling his three-months-pregnant girlfriend.

Well enough to go to prison

Matteo Messina Denaro was undergoing cancer treatment under an assumed name in a Palermo clinic on Monday. His health is compatible with his doing prison time on a string of life terms for murder, Palermo assistant prosecutor Paolo Guido told a press conference Monday.
“He appeared in good health to us and looked fine. So we don’t think his condition is incompatible with prison, Guido said.

“He looked good, he was well-dressed, he was wearing luxury clothing which leads us to think that his economic conditions were good too”. Guido added: “Obviously, he will receive health care as all citizens are entitled to”.

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