JAKARTA - The boss of the Italian mafia, most wanted since 1993 Matteo Messina Denaro, was arrested by armed police at a private hospital in Sicily on Monday while undergoing treatment for cancer.
Nicknamed "Diabolic" and "'U Siccu" (Si Kurus), Messina Denaro has been sentenced to life absentia for his role in the killings of anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino in 1992, a crime that sparked a crackdown on Cosa Nostra or the Sicily Mafia group.
Messina Denaro, 60, was taken away from Palermo's "La Maddalena" hospital by police carabiniers with a waiting black▁gelombang. She wore a brown coated jacket, glasses and a brown and white hat.
Images on social media showed local residents applauding and shaking hands with police in the balaclavas as they were taken away from the city's suburban hospital to a secret location.
Judiciary sources said he was treated for cancer and underwent surgery last year, followed by a series of treatments with false names.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni praised Messina Denaro's arrest as "a big win for the country".
Meanwhile, Maria Falcone, the sister of the judge who was killed, echoed the sentiment.
"This proves that the mafiotion, regardless of their power of power, will ultimately lose in conflict with a democratic country," he said.
Messina Denaro, comes from the small town of Castelvetrano near Trapani in western Sicily. He is the son of a mafia boss.
Police said last September he could still issue orders regarding the way the mafia was carried out in the area around Trapani, his regional camp.
Before hiding, he was known to like to drive expensive cars and his taste in specially designed suits and Rolex watches.
He faces life sentences for his role in the bomb attacks in Florence, Rome, and Milan that killed 10 people in 1993. He was also accused by prosecutors of being responsible for many other killings in the 1990s.
In 1993 he helped organize the kidnapping of a 12-year-old boy, Giuseppe Di Matteo, in an attempt to prevent his father from providing evidence against the mafia, prosecutors said. The boy was detained two years before he was strangled and his body dissolved in acid.
The arrests came nearly 30 years since police arrested Salvatore "Toto" Riina, the most powerful boss of the 20th century Sicily Mafia. Toto died in prison in 2017, for never violating his silence code.
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