Sicilian Mafia Boss Messina Denaro Has Died

After 30 elusive years on the run, Matteo Messina Denaro, the Italian mob boss notorious for his ruthlessness, met his end.

by Faruk Imamovic
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Sicilian Mafia Boss Messina Denaro Has Died
© Getty Images News/Handout

After 30 elusive years on the run, Matteo Messina Denaro, the Italian mob boss notorious for his ruthlessness, met his end. The ANSA news agency, as corroborated by Reuters, reported on Monday that the once-feared mafioso, affectionately dubbed "Diabolik," had passed away.

Messina Denaro, aged 61 at the time of his demise, was diagnosed with colon cancer prior to his arrest in January. As his health deteriorated, he was transferred from a high-security prison in L'Aquila to a hospital in central Italy.

Notably, ANSA informed that Denaro opted against aggressive medical intervention and doctors ceased feeding him once he entered an irreversible coma. Ironically, it was his decision to seek initial treatment that inadvertently led to his capture in Palermo.

Legacy of Power and Terror

Known as the "Diabolik," after a famous Italian comic's criminal protagonist that he admired, Denaro reigned supreme over Cosa Nostra in the western Sicilian province of Trapani. His formidable influence wasn't limited to Trapani alone; it stretched as far as Palermo.

As the last emblematic figure of the Cosa Nostra's old guard, he carried the mantle of a bygone era of organized crime. His rap sheet was as extensive as it was chilling. One of the most notorious events tying him to a reign of terror was the 1992 assassination of Judge Giovanni Falcone.

Falcone, a prominent anti-mafia advocate, faced his untimely end on May 23, near Palermo, following a bombing orchestrated by a group of mobsters, which included Denaro. The order for this gruesome act came from then-mafia overlord, Salvatore Riina.

Following this audacious act, Denaro vanished in the summer of 1993, ascending the ranks to become Italy's most wanted. Despite being on the run, he remained a specter of fear and influence. It was eventually discerned that he was in proximity to his birthplace, Castelvetrano in western Sicily.

Years of meticulous surveillance and eavesdropping on his kin and acquaintances led the police to his eventual capture during a routine check-up at a private clinic in Palermo.

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