February 2, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Boss "goat nostra" Matteo Messina Denaro detained in Palermo

In the capital of Sicily, Palermo, Matteo Messina Denaro, the boss of Cosa Nostra, who managed to hide from justice for 30 years, was detained.

As informs ANSA, he was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the 1992 murder of anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. In addition, he is charged with participation in the terrorist attacks in Florence, Rome and Milan, as a result of which ten people died – for this crime he also faces life imprisonment. Now Denaro is 60 years old, he was put on the wanted list when he was 30.

Italy’s most wanted gangster tells Air Force, was arrested while on his way to a cafe near a private Sicilian clinic, where he made an appointment under the name Andrea Bonafede. A policeman approached him and asked him his name. He didn’t lie, the “boss of all bosses” who had been hunted for 30 years, just looked up and said, “You know who I am. I am Matteo Messina Denaro.”

During his time at the top of the organized crime syndicate, Cosa Nostra, Denaro, known by the nickname “Diabolic”, oversaw racketeering, illegal dumping, money laundering and drug trafficking. In 2002, he was convicted in absentia of a series of murders. Among the brutal crimes for which he was convicted was the murder of the young son of a mafioso, who was strangled and his body dissolved in a vat of acid.

He has headed Cosa Nostra since 2006, after the arrest of his predecessor, Bernardo Provenzano. Forbes ranked him #6 on their list of the ten most wanted criminals in the world. Denaro was the latest of three top-level fugitives who had eluded capture for decades. Matteo repeatedly boasted that he had filled an entire cemetery with his own hands. The Italian court sentenced the criminal to death in absentia, but this fact did not bother Diabolik for a long time. According to Italian state television, Messina Denaro was taken to a secret place immediately after his arrest. Italian journalist Andrea Purgatori notes:

“He was arrested for so long because, as happened with other mafia bosses, he was protected by a very dense network of associates, deeply rooted and extremely influential in Sicily and beyond.”

Many speculate that Monday’s arrest was the result of a tip from Messina Denaro’s associates who decided they no longer needed the ailing boss. “After all, Italy’s most wanted mafioso felt secure enough for a long time ‘to freely walk the streets of Palermo, the capital of Cosa Nostra,'” Mr. Purgatori said.

At a press conference, police dismissed the tip-off, saying they combined old-school investigative techniques with modern technology to narrow down the suspects. The homes of Messina Denaro’s relatives were bugged. They assumed that their conversations were being tapped, and therefore spoke of “people with cancer” and “cancer operations” only in general terms. Still, it was enough to alert investigators, given long-standing rumors that Denaro was ill.

These interceptions, combined with the monitoring of internet searches about Crohn’s disease and liver cancer by Messina’s associates, led the Carabinieri to speculate that the mob boss was seeking treatment. After collecting data on all the men with cancer who were born in 1962 near Trapani in western Sicily, the investigators delved into their lives, narrowing the search to 10 suspects, then to five … Finally, one name caught their eye: Andrea Bonafede, nephew of the late mob boss Leonardo Bonafede.

The day was chosen for the detention, when a chemotherapy session was ordered for this name – the carabinieri realized that this was their chance. On Monday morning, more than 100 military personnel surrounded the La Maddalena clinic. Messina Denaro was walking into a cafe when he noticed a strong police presence. He tried to turn back, but noticed that the police were blocking the street. He didn’t run. Perhaps he also knew that it was only a matter of time…

The mafia boss, who was “polite and quiet”, was taken to a nearby airport and transported by military plane at night to a maximum security prison in L’Aquila, in the central region of Abruzzo. University of Essex criminology professor Anna Sergi told the BBC that Cosa Nostra is unlikely to survive without its mythological boss, who has become a symbol of mafia resilience: “Who will take control – or if anyone can – remains to be seen.”

Italian police have discovered Messina Denaro’s safe house. Earlier, the investigating authorities found the secret apartments of the mafia, combined with a bunker in the Sicilian city of Campobello di Mazara.

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