The last great “godfather” was arrested after 30 years at large
In September 2021, the Italian authorities rejoiced at the news of the arrest, in The Hague, of the fugitive from justice Matteo Messina Denaro. The suspect was having dinner with his son in a restaurant when Dutch police blindfolded him and transported him to a high-security prison, where he was held in isolation for three days. The detainee turned out to be a 54-year-old English citizen, unrelated to the man known as “Diabolik” and “U Siccu”, disappeared since 1993 and sentenced in absentia to a life sentence. Yesterday there was no change of identity. Despite being treated under the name Andrea Bonafede, when police forces burst into a clinic in Palermo to lay their hands on him, he declared: “I am Matteo Messina Denaro.”
Son of “Don Ciccio”, a Cosa Nostra boss from Castelvetrano, a village in the province of Trapani, Sicily, Denaro, aged 60, is considered the last great “godfather” of that criminal organization and the heir of Salvatore “Totò” Riina. His fame as a ruthless killer gained the contours of a legend due to the time he managed to elude the authorities – three decades – while he maintained power in the province, running drug trafficking and betting businesses, but also real estate and even wind energy. He was number one on Italy’s most wanted list, accused of mafia association, multiple murders and use of explosives. His bloodthirsty legend includes the phrase he said that his victims could “fill a cemetery”.
Messina Denaro was wanted by the authorities in 1989, accused of association with the mafia for his participation in the fight between two rival clans and also suspected of the murder of a hotelier who complained about the presence of the mafia. Apparently, it was enough for a hotel employee, his lover, to have told the boss’s indignation to earn him a death sentence. In 1992 he participated in the murder of Mincenzo Milazzo, head of a rival clan, and strangled his pregnant partner.
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