After 30 years of being on the run, Matteo Messina Denaro is now a wanted mafia boss in Italy.
Messina Denaro, a boss of Sicily’s Cosa Nostra mafia, is believed to have been on the run since 1993.
The 60-year old was taken into custody at Palermo’s private hospital.
According to Italy’s Ansa news agency, he had been attending the hospital for some time. Police had secretly moved officers into this building overnight to ensure the safety of other patients.
According to Italian media, he may be suffering from cancer.
According to Italian state TV, Messina Denaro was arrested at Palermo’s court and taken to a secret location shortly after her arrest.
Giorgia Meloni, Italy’s prime minister, thanked authorities and called the operation a “great win for the state that shows its indomitable resolve against the mafia”.
Messina Denaro was sentenced to a life sentence in absentia for his involvement in the 1992 murders by anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone, Paolo Borsellino.
For his involvement in the bomb attacks on Florence, Rome, and Milan that killed 10 people in 2011, he is also facing a life sentence.
Last year, police stated that he could still issue commands regarding the mafia’s operations in the region around Trapani in western Sicilia, his regional stronghold.
Messina Denaro is also charged with being solely or jointly liable for many other murders committed in the 1990s.
Prosecutors claim that he was involved in the 1993 kidnapping and kidnapping Giuseppe Di Matteo (12 years old) to discourage his father from testifying against the mafia.
Two years were spent in captivity before the boy was released.
The last of the three mafia bosses at the top
Messina Denaro was one of three top-ranking mafia bosses fugitive from capture who had managed to evade capture for many decades.
However, he was not the only leader of the Sicilian mafia, Maurizio di Lucia, chief prosecutor in Palermo said at a Monday press conference.
Reporters were also told by the prosecution that Denaro was known to have been hiding in Italy for over three decades. He was wearing a 35,000 euro (PS31,000) watch when officers arrested him.
De Lucia explained to reporters that Andrea Bonafede was the fugitive’s pseudonym and that he had an Italian identification card under that name. This roughly translated into English as “good faith”.
Denaro appeared in court shortly after his arrest. A judge asked basic questions and sought to verify his identity.
He described his occupation as “farmer” to the court and said he had six children.
According to audio recordings of hearings transmitted by state TV, investigators believe that at least one of them were born while he was still a fugitive.
Denaro was arrested 30 years and one day after Salvatore “Toto”, a convicted “boss boss of bosses”, was captured. Riina had been on the run for 23 years.
Gian Carlo Caselli was Palermo’s prosecutor at the time Riina was arrested. He added that the coincidence of Riina’s anniversary and the arrest made it more significant.
He warned Cosa Nustra that it had proven its ability to survive arrests of senior leaders and regroup in the past.
Bernardo Provenzano holds the record for longest time on the run. He was captured in a farmhouse in Corleone, Sicily in 2006 after 38 years of being a fugitive.
After Provenzano was taken into custody, the hunt shifted to Messina Denaro. However, despite many sightings throughout the years, he has managed to escape arrest until today.
The authorities arrested all three of the top bosses in Sicily. They claimed they relied on the confidentiality and contacts of complicit family members and fellow mobsters to move from hideouts to hideouts while receiving basic necessities like food and clean clothes.