Italy’s long-time most wanted mafia boss, Matteo Messina Denaro, is dead. The 61-year-old died in a prison clinic in the central Italian city of L’Aquila as a result of cancer, as the Italian news agency Ansa reported.
The boss of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra was only arrested in mid-January after three decades on the run. At that time he wanted to be treated under a false name in a private clinic in Sicily’s capital Palermo for his colon cancer.
Probably responsible for the murders of Falcone and Borsellino
The criminal’s health had deteriorated drastically in the past few days. On Friday evening, the treating doctors announced that Messina Denaro had fallen into an irreversible coma from which he would no longer wake up. At his own request, life support measures were discontinued.
As a member of Cosa Nostra, Messina Denaro is said to have committed or organized dozens of murders – including the fatal bombings of mafia hunters Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, which made headlines around the world in 1992.
Since his arrest, he has undergone two operations, the most recent in August. He also received chemotherapy. According to Italian media reports, the family was able to say goodbye to him in the past few days.
Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro is dead
He was on the run for 30 years and was arrested at the beginning of 2023: Matteo Messina Denaro died after a serious battle with cancer. The mafioso was probably partly responsible for dozens of murders.
The Italian mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro died eight months after his arrest: The 61-year-old succumbed to cancer in a clinic in the central Italian city of L’Aquila, as the Ansa news agency reported on Monday night. The boss of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra was only arrested in mid-January. At that time he wanted to be treated in a private clinic in the island’s capital Palermo under a false name. He never made a confession. There was no further trial.
The criminal’s health, who was suffering from colon cancer, had deteriorated drastically in the past few days. On Friday evening, the treating doctors announced that the multiple murderer had fallen into a coma from which he would no longer wake up. At his own request, life support measures were discontinued. Relatives were able to say goodbye to Messina Denaro. According to media reports, his daughter, who was born during his years in hiding, was with him in the last few hours.
Murder, kidnapping, attacks
According to the investigation, as a member of the Cosa Nostra, the native Sicilian committed or organized dozens of murders – he was also partly responsible for the bombings of the two mafia hunters Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino in 1992. At that time, several bodyguards and other companions also died. He was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment for the 1992 attack and other attacks.
He is also said to have helped plan the kidnapping of little Giuseppe Di Matteo in 1993: the boy was kidnapped so that his father would not testify in court. After 779 days, the mafiosi strangled him shortly before his 15th birthday and dissolved the body in acid. He was also accused of involvement in mafia attacks in Rome, Milan and Florence in 1993, in which a total of ten people were killed.
Messina Denaro was considered a confidante and then successor to the former godparents Salvatore “Totò” Riina and Bernardo Provenzano. The brutal and unscrupulous Riina was called the “boss of bosses”. He was arrested on January 15, 1993, almost exactly 30 years before Messina Denaro. Riina and Provenzano died in prison in 2017 and 2016, respectively.
“You got me because I’m sick”
Messina Denaro had known for a long time that he had cancer. He had already been receiving treatment for several months at the private clinic where he was finally arrested. There he was known as a patient named Andrea Bonafede, was operated on and also came for follow-up checks. When he was arrested, he also had an identity card under that name and even a tax number for the tax authorities.
To this day, the public never knew how exactly he managed to stay hidden for so long. It is assumed that he also had supporters on the state side. According to investigators, Messina Denaro was never willing to cooperate with authorities even after his arrest. During an interrogation, he was quoted as saying: “I don’t want to make a fuss about Superman or sound arrogant. You got me because I’m sick.” During her time in prison, Messina Denaro had to undergo two operations, most recently in August. He also received chemotherapy. According to the doctors, in his last hours he only received painkillers.