Human Interest

‘Last godfather’ of Sicilian mafia dies at 61

(Update 1: Adds details, new headline, lede, minor edits)

Rome, Sep 25 (EFE).- The “last godfather” of the Sicilian mafia, Matteo Messina Denaro, who as arrested in January after 30 years on the run, died Monday at the age of 61.

Messina Denaro died with colon cancer in the inmate ward of the San Salvatore hospital in L’Aquila to where he had been transferred from the maximum security prison in the city last month.

He will be buried in his Sicilian hometown of Castelvetrano, according to Italian media.

“It is the end of a story that tells of violence and blood, of suffering and heroism,” said L’Aquila Mayor Pierluigi Biondi, one of the first to comment on the death.

“The epilogue of an existence lived without remorse or repentance, a painful chapter in the recent history of our nation, which we cannot erase, but whose end we can tell today thanks to the work of the women and men who have dedicated their lives to the fight against mafia crime.”

Messina Denaro had been in a coma since Friday and was sedated, hydrated and his pain treated, but no longer fed, according to his last wishes.

In hospital he was visited by his sister Giovanna, his niece and lawyer Lorenza Guttadauro, and by his only known legitimate daughter, Lorenza, 27 years old and whom he saw for the first time in April when she visited him in prison.

The former Costa Nosta boss, who takes to the grave the secrets of the big mafia attacks, such as those that ended the lives of judges Giovani Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, will not be given a Catholic funeral since the Sicilian episcopate has always denied this to mafiosi.

Furthermore, for reasons of public order, the police headquarters of Trapani, Sicily, will only allow a discreet burial in the Castelvetrano cemetery, where the family site is prepared.

He will rest next to his father Francesco “Don Ciccio” Messina Denaro, who was a mafia boss in the late 1980s and died of a heart attack while on the run.

For more than 30 years, Matteo Messina Denaro was searched for all over the world, but he resided, at least in recent years, in Campobello di Mazara, in the province of Trapani, just 8 kilometers from his hometown Castelvetrano.

On Jan. 16, after 30 years on the run, he was arrested outside a private health clinic in the Sicilian capital, Palermo, where he had been receiving cancer treatment.

Messina Denaro became the head of Cosa Nostra after the arrests of Salvatore “Totó” Riina in 1993 and his successor Bernardo Provenzano in 2006. EFE


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