After 30 years on the run, Italy’s most-wanted mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro was arrested in Sicily, police said. Matteo Denaro was arrested from a private health clinic in Palermo possibly set to undergo plastic surgery, a CNN report said quoting prosecutor Maurizio de Lucia as saying on Monday.
Denaro has been a fugitive since 1993 and was considered by Europol as one of Europe’s most wanted men. Italy’s chief of Police, Lamberto Giannini, told CNN: “It is a victory for all the police forces that have worked together over these long years to bring the dangerous fugitive to justice.” He congratulated the Carabinieri, Italy’s military police, and the Palermo Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni tweeted: “A great victory for the state, which demonstrates that it does not give up in the face of the Mafia.” Italy’s Defense Minister Guido Crosetto called the arrest “a sign of a state that wins against Mafia.”
Meloni while speaking outside the prosecutor’s office, said that Italy had not yet won the “war” against the Mafia, this was a “battle that was fundamental to win” but “it’s a day we can celebrate and tell our children that the Mafia can be defeated”.
Messina Denaro is thought to have ordered dozens of Mafia-related murders and was given several life sentences in absentia for his many crimes, most notably in 1992 for his involvement in the separate murders of anti-Mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, according to CNN.
The CNN report also said that Denaro received his most recent life sentence in 2020 for fatal bombings in Milan, Florence and Rome in the late 1990s, and for the murder and torture of the 11-year-old son of an enemy who gave evidence against the Sicilian Cosa Nostra.
He was Cosa Notra’s longest-hiding fugitive, having been a wanted man for nearly 30 years. Denaro was taken into police custody at around 10 am (local time) after a raid was carried out by more than 100 specialised agents with anti-Mafia Carabinieri in the early hours of the morning.
It is not known what treatment he was receiving. However, the Maddalena clinic where he was arrested is a private clinic known for plastic surgery and other elective surgeries, according to CNN. Denaro is being held in a secret location, the Carabinieri press office told CNN on Monday.