Italian mafia boss Matteo Denaro dies aged 61 after cancer battle

This image taken from an Italian Carabinieri handout video dating January 16, 2023 shows Matteo Messina Denaro, center, a top Mafia boss, being escorted from a Carabinieri police station shortly after his arrest, in Palermo, southern Italy. Picture courtesy of AP.

Matteo Messina Denaro, a leading mafia figure in Italy who was apprehended in January, has succumbed to cancer at the age of 61. Denaro, who had been diagnosed with colon cancer at the time of his arrest, had evaded capture for 30 years and was later found guilty.

His condition had deteriorated over recent weeks, necessitating his transfer from a maximum-security prison to a hospital. Denaro eventually lost consciousness on Friday night and did not recover. Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini commented via Instagram…

“I can’t forbid prayers, but I won’t say I’m sorry.”

The mafia boss, dubbed the last Godfather by Italian media, was convicted for several homicide cases. Denaro had managed to escape a life sentence for his role in the 1992 events that led to the assassination of two state anti-mafia lawyers. The shocking incident sparked a rigorous crackdown on the mafia in the country.

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He also played a role in bombing attacks that occurred in Rome, Florence, and Milan in 1993, resulting in the loss of ten lives. Additionally, he was linked to numerous other assassinations throughout the 1990s.

In 1993, Denaro orchestrated the abduction of a 12 year old boy to exert pressure on his father, preventing him from providing evidence that could lead to a crackdown on the mafia.

The young boy was separated from his family for two agonising years before ultimately being strangled to death. The perpetrators then used acid to dissolve his remains, erasing crucial evidence. Following Denaro’s arrest at the hospital on January 16, he is believed to have maintained a stoic silence, offering no substantial information to law enforcement, reported Sanook.

Denaro followed in his father’s footsteps, joining the mob at the age of 15 and carrying a firearm. Police assert that he committed his first murder at the age of 18. Despite his notoriety, prosecutors have consistently harboured doubts regarding Denaro’s rise to become the Mafia’s “boss of bosses,” suggesting instead that he likely held the position of the head of Cosa Nostra in western Sicily. Read more about the story HERE.

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Samantha Rose

Samantha was a successful freelance journalist who worked with international news organisations before joining Thaiger. With a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from London, her global perspective on news and current affairs is influenced by her days in the UK, Singapore, and across Thailand. She now covers general stories related to Thailand.

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