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Italian mafia boss dies in prison after 30 years on the run

Matteo Messina Denaro, arrested in January after 30 years on the run, died, ANSA reported on Monday.

He was reportedly suffering from cancer at the time of his arrest. In recent weeks, he had been transferred from a maximum security prison in central Italy, where he was initially held, to a hospital as his condition worsened.

Denaro asked to exclude aggressive medical treatment, ANSA reported, adding that doctors stopped feeding him after finding out he was in an irreversible coma.

He was accused of numerous crimes, including participating in the planning of the 1992 murders of anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. A shocking led to a crackdown on the Sicilian Mafia.

He was also found responsible for the 1993 Rome, Florence and Milan bombings that killed 10 people. In addition, he was accused of kidnapping 12-year-old Giuseppe Di Matteo, organised to dissuade the boy’s father from testifying against the Mafia. Giuseppe was killed after two years in captivity.

The Italian press calls Matteo Messina Denaro “the last Godfather.” He did not give any information to police after officers seized him outside a private medical clinic in the Sicilian capital Palermo on January 16.

Messina Denaro, nicknamed “U Siccu” (The Skinny One), became a protégé of the Sicilian Mafia’s top boss, receiving 20 life sentences in absentia trials for his involvement in a series of mass murders. He himself once claimed to have killed enough people to fill a cemetery.

He vanished in 1993 when defectors began actively uncovering details of his Mafia life. Investigators believe the Godfather rarely left Sicily. According to Italian police reports, he was helped to slip away from the police by the “middle-class Mafia”.

Despite his notoriety, prosecutors have always doubted that Messina Denaro became the “boss of bosses” of the Mafia, claiming the criminal merely headed Cosa Nostra in western Sicily.

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