Matteo Messina Denaro, a convicted assassin and high-ranking gangster in Sicilian Cosa Nostra who evaded seize for 30 years, has died in a hospital within the central Italian metropolis of L’Aquila, the place he had served most time. safe jail. He was 61.
Mr Messina Denaro was handled for most cancers for years and fell right into a coma that docs stated on Friday was irreversible. The Italian information company ANSA reported early Monday that he had died.
Mr Messina Denaro was arrested in January whereas ready to endure chemotherapy at a personal clinic in Palermo. He used a false id and investigators found he was being handled for most cancers after they discovered a chunk of paper containing his medical historical past rolled up within the leg of a chair at his mom’s residence in Castelvetrano, Sicily.
As a result of he wasn’t being handled below his actual identify, they used Nationwide Well being Service information to establish and slim down the variety of sufferers with related circumstances.
Regardless of working within the shadows, Mr. Messina Denaro topped Italy’s most wished fugitives checklist for many years. His capability to confuse investigators throughout a persistent, if irritating, mission to seek out him added to his aura of invincibility.
“La Cattura” (“The Seize”), a just lately revealed e book in regards to the hunt for him written by Maurizio de Lucia, the chief prosecutor in Palermo, calls Mr. Messina Denaro “one among Italy’s best mysteries.” He was, Mr. De Lucia wrote, “the gangster who introduced Cosa Nostra in Sicily into a brand new period, inside a prison system that unites many segments.”
In 2020, Mr. Messina Denaro was convicted in absentia for his function within the high-profile murders of two of Italy’s high anti-mafia prosecutors, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, in 1992, and for lethal bombings the next yr in Milan, Rome . and Florence, which prosecutors say have been a part of a Cosa Nostra technique towards the state.
He was additionally given a life sentence for his involvement within the kidnapping and demise of the 12-year-old son of a Mafia turncoat after the boy was strangled and his physique dissolved in acid, and within the demise of a police officer.
Lirio Abbate, an investigative journalist, has additionally written a e book about Mr. Messina Denaro. In that e book, “U Siccu,” revealed in 2020, Mr. Abbate stated that Mr. Messina Denaro had confided to a good friend that he may make “a cemetery” of all of the individuals he had killed or had killed.
What little is thought about Mr. Messina Denaro comes via the testimonies of mafia defectors and arrested gangsters, in addition to from courtroom information, police reviews and rumors. Earlier than his arrest, investigators had little data: a 1988 recording of his homicide testimony and a handful of photographs of him as a younger man.
Nicknamed U Siccu (Sicilian for slender), Mr Messina Denaro is claimed to have had a style for quick luxurious vehicles which he couldn’t bask in for worry of being caught. In keeping with an investigator, he was sporting a watch value greater than 30,000 euros (about $32,000) when he was arrested. Police additionally discovered designer garments and costly perfumes in his final hideout, an condo in southwestern Sicily the place Mr. Messina Denaro had been dwelling below an assumed identify for a number of years.
He advised the investigators who caught him that he had spent the previous few years dwelling largely out within the open, “a tree in the course of a forest,” pondering he was much less prone to be caught. If anybody knew he was Italy’s most wished mafia boss, they would not have stated a phrase to the authorities.
He was stated to be a ‘fimminaru’ or playboy, and books and articles about him recounted his conquests in Italy and overseas. Some ladies paid a excessive value and ended up in jail for supporting his life as a fugitive. Mr. Abbate famous in his e book that the philandering Mr. Messina Denaro had damaged with the “household values of the normal mafia.”
He’s believed to have traveled extensively throughout his years on the run, establishing hyperlinks with prison teams in Europe and America. “He was in all places and nowhere,” Attilio Bolzoni, a veteran Mafia reporter, wrote after the arrest. “A ghost.”
Mr. Messina Denaro had taken his place on the Cosa Nostra desk when his father, who additionally had ties to the mafia, grew to become a fugitive after his personal authorized troubles. In 1991, the son attended an notorious assembly the place prosecutors consider the Sicilian mafia households determined to wage battle towards the central authorities by wrapping up the high-profile murders and bombings of the early Nineteen Nineties.
His rise inside the echelons of organized crime was made doable by his ties to the Corleonesi crime household, which was led by Salvatore (Toto) Riina, the so-called boss of all bosses, who is claimed to have regarded him as a son.
When a Mafia turncoat linked Mr. Messina Denaro to a number of murders in 1993, he went underground. However he maintained a decent grip on his territory, the western Sicilian province of Trapani, the place he acquired property in official companies together with journey companies, supermarkets and different vitality corporations.
He communicated with staff via letters and handwritten messages that he averted writing personally and demanded that they be burned as soon as learn. Specialists stated he was protected by a big community of associates who feared and revered him, and by locals who appeared the opposite approach.
A whole bunch of people that helped him keep away from arrest or profited from his monetary dealings have been jailed through the years, together with pals, kinfolk and high enterprise associates. Almost €10 billion of his property and shares in numerous corporations and companies seized through the years have been simply “the tip of the iceberg,” based on Mr De Lucia.
Piero Grasso, a former nationwide anti-Mafia prosecutor, stated Messina Denaro was “very cherished, as a result of he was thought-about a benefactor in his territory” – a dynamic that helps clarify why he was capable of stay below cowl for thus lengthy.
By the point he was arrested, he had accrued a number of life sentences. He spent his final months in jail, in courtroom and being handled for most cancers. He was scheduled to attend a single-trial listening to this month.
Mr. Messina Denaro was born on April 26, 1962 in Castelvetrano, a rural city in western Sicily, the fourth of six youngsters. His father, Francesco Messina Denaro, referred to as “don Ciccio,” was the boss of an area crime household and died in 1998 whereas on the run. His mom, Lorenza Santangelo, was a housewife.
He grew up on an property belonging to a rich native household and attended a technical faculty within the space however didn’t full highschool, based on Mr. de Lucia’s e book.
Details about survivors was not instantly obtainable.
Mr. de Lucia wrote that in interrogations after his arrest, Mr. Messina Denaro had continued to disclaim that he was a part of the mafia or took half within the killings.
But his violent streak began early.
“He was capturing on the age of 14,” Mr. Abbate wrote. “Killing on the age of 18. On the age of 31, he planted bombs within the north. That is what we learn about him, a boy with plain prison expertise.”
Nevertheless, Mr. Messina Denaro maintained his innocence to the tip; throughout an interrogation in February he described himself as a “stateless farmer.” “I used to work within the countryside,” he stated, lamenting that he had misplaced his place of residence and his property. “I had possessions, however you took all of them away.”