Strong loyalty to the clan and the local population helped Mafia boss Messina Denaro stay in hiding

  • The final mafia godfather loved an unusually robust loyalty
  • Omerta’s legislation of silence additionally helped the president keep in hiding
  • The final “godfather” Messina Denaro lived close to his mom

PALERMO, Italy (January 25) (Reuters) – When Salvatore Catalano found that Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro was residing a brief distance from his house in Campobello di Mazara in western Sicily, he fell ailing.

Catalano’s brother, Agostino, was a policeman who died in a bomb blast in 1992 that killed anti-mob choose Paolo Borsellino — an assault prosecutors say Messina Denaro helped orchestrate.

“There’s anger in my coronary heart and soul now that I do know he was right here and I did not acknowledge him,” Catalano informed Reuters.

Messina Denaro, 60, was arrested on January 16, 30 years after she fled. Police consider he has spent many of the previous yr hiding in plain sight in Campobello de Mazara, a city of about 11,000, a brief drive from his mom’s home.

“We celebrated the arrest with my household. He’s in jail and can now be topic to strict detention guidelines,” Catalano mentioned.

The final confirmed sighting of Messina Denaro was in 1993, which made it tough for the police to determine Italy’s most needed man. Authorities mentioned he appeared to steer an open life within the city, searching for himself on the native grocery store.

Prosecutors say their hunt was additional difficult by the unusually robust loyalty he obtained from members of his clan in western Sicily.

Reuters interviewed dozens of residents on the streets of Campobello and from his close by hometown of Castelvetrano, in addition to prosecutors and police who helped monitor him down.

They reveal the struggles confronted by the investigators making an attempt to interrupt by way of the mafia wall of “omerta”, or code of silence, which has damaged down in different elements of Sicily however nonetheless holds up round Messina Denaro, whom the Italian press dubbed “the final godfather”.

“I’ve arrested no less than 200 folks in reference to him. Solely one in every of them determined to cooperate with justice,” mentioned Roberto Piscitello, the prosecutor who tried to arrest Messina Denaro from 1996 to 2008.

“Within the neighboring provinces of Palermo and Agrigento, 5 out of 10 of these arrested have turn into apostates,” he informed Reuters, talking from his house in Marsala on the western tip of Sicily.

Ultimately, it was not the gangsters of Messina Denaro who betrayed him, however his failing physique.

false id

Police mentioned they managed to arrest Messina Denaro after studying from a wiretap of his kinfolk that he had most cancers.

That they had lengthy suspected that he lived in his native Sicily, and a radical examination of most cancers sufferers within the space revealed {that a} man named Andrea Bonafede had undergone surgical procedure within the western metropolis of Mazara del Vallo on the similar time his cellphone was lively within the space. One other a part of the island.

Courtroom paperwork seen by Reuters confirmed that investigators thought-about this the “first vital affirmation” that Messina Denaro might have been hidden below that false id, as a result of they indicated that the person who carried out the operation was not the true Andrea Bonafede, who was presupposed to have been with him. Phone.

They obtain the affected person and study that he’s scheduled to obtain routine chemotherapy within the island’s capital, Palermo, on January 16.

The police surrounded the clinic and swooped in after the affected person arrived for his appointment. He instantly admitted his true id, however appeared to squander any hopes that he would finish his lifetime of crime.

“I’ve my very own code of honor,” a legislation enforcement supply quoted him as telling the judges after they first met him, referring to the Sicilian Mafia’s rule, which has deteriorated drastically over the previous 30 years, to not discuss concerning the group to anybody on the skin.

His silence implies that investigators should attempt to piece collectively the absolute best technique to keep away from detection through the years.

The preliminary focus of the investigation is on the true Andrea Bonafide, a skilled surveyor with no felony file.

Prosecutors mentioned that Bonafide confirmed realizing Messina Denaro from a younger age and confessed to purchasing the gangster an condominium in Campobello de Mazara. He himself is below arrest and has not commented publicly on the case.

The police are additionally investigating his driver, Giovanni Luppino, an olive grower who additionally has no police file. He was carrying a key and turned off each telephones, in what judges mentioned was an try to stop him from being tracked.

He denied realizing the true id of his passenger.

Palermo prosecutor Maurizio de Lucia informed Reuters that males like Bonafede characterize the “first hyperlink” within the fugitive matrix – those that offered for his fundamental wants.

However he believes his help community is deeply rooted.

“His lands have helped him for a few years. It’s affordable to consider that he has been protected by professionals and businessmen,” he mentioned.

Amongst these already below investigation for aiding and abetting his boss is his physician, Alfonso Tombarello. His lawyer mentioned he was assured his shopper might show his innocence.

Enterprise contacts

The judges mentioned they discovered proof that Messina Denaro visited Spain, Greece and Austria through the years. However the principle focus of his enterprise actions remained in western Sicily, which implies that he in all probability spent most of his time on the island.

Dozens of lower-level mafiosi have been arrested within the space through the years — a thinning from Messina Denaro’s inside circle who judges mentioned repeatedly interrupted promising leads they hoped would someday take them to his boss.

“(However) we can not sacrifice justice. We can not depart the gangs on the streets,” prosecutor Paulo Guido, who has led the lengthy hunt for his boss in previous years, informed Reuters.

Prosecutors mentioned the mob boss cultivated a broad vary of economic pursuits that went past conventional Mafia issues, serving to him create a loyal community of white-collar professionals.

A secret recording made in jail in 2013 revealed that the previous boss of bosses, Salvatore “The Beast” Reyna, had complained that his one-time proteges have been investing in renewable vitality tasks relatively than specializing in the militant mafia’s actions.

“Within the context of Sicily, those that are believed to create jobs and the potential for doing enterprise are given consensus and safety,” mentioned Col. Antonello Paraceletti Mollica, who heads the Particular Forces Anti-Crime Unit in Palermo.

Writing by Angelo Amanti; Modifying by Crispian Palmer and Ross Colvin

Our requirements: Thomson Reuters Belief Ideas.

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