Italian police said on Monday they had arrested Matteo Messina Denaro, the country’s most wanted mafia boss who had been on the run for three decades, swooping on a private hospital in the Sicilian capital Palermo where he had gone for treatment.
Prosecutors say Messina Denaro is a boss of Sicily’s Cosa Nostra mafia.
He has been sentenced in absentia to a life term for his role in the 1992 murders of anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.
He also faces a life sentence for his role in bomb attacks in Florence, Rome and Milan which killed 10 people the following year.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni hailed the arrest as “a great victory for the state that shows it never gives up in the face of the mafia”.
Police said in September 2022 that Messina Denaro was still able to issue commands relating to the way the mafia was run in the area around the western Sicilian city of Trapani, his regional stronghold, despite his long disappearance.
Messina Denaro, who comes from the small town of Castelvetrano near Trapani, is accused by prosecutors of being solely or jointly responsible for numerous other murders in the 1990s.
In 1993 he helped organise the kidnapping of a 12-year-old boy, Giuseppe Di Matteo, in an attempt to dissuade his father from giving evidence against the mafia, prosecutors say. The boy was held in captivity for two years before he was strangled and his body dissolved in acid.