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Mafia boss Matteo Messina arrested after three decades on the run

Meloni celebrates “a great victory for the State” against the mafia

The leader of the Cosa Nostra, sick with cancer, located in a clinic in Palermo

The Italian security forces have arrested this Monday on the island of Sicily the mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro, considered one of the last great godfathers of Cosa Nostra and a fugitive from Justice for three decades.

The authorities have located him in a clinic in Palermo, where he had gone to undergo treatment, according to the commander of the Caribinieri, Pasquale Angelosanto. Messina had gone under a false name to receive a chemotherapy session, according to Rai.

A hundred troops have participated in this delicate operation, in which Messina offered no resistance to the agents. The kingpin has been transferred to a secure location prior to his arrival at a maximum security prison, in line with the protocols for this type of arrest.

Not surprisingly, he was considered the number one fugitive from Italy, to the extent that he symbolizes the practices of a mafia that has marked some areas of the country for decades. His criminal activity dates back to the 1980s, when he was not yet 30 years old, and he is serving two life sentences.

The last of these derives from his connection to the 1992 murders of judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, in two historical tragedies of the Italian authorities’ fight against organized crime during the 1990s.

Although this conviction underlines that the gangster had no role in carrying out the attacks that killed the judges –the Capaci and Via D’Amelio massacres–, it does conclude that the gangster offered help to monitor the magistrates at the time when the person most responsible for the attacks, Salvatore Riina, decided to launch the operations.

Prosecutor Paolo Guido, one of those responsible for the case, has celebrated that this operation “is the result of years of investigations” and derives from “difficult and complex” coordination work between different institutions.

For the Palermo prosecutor, Maurizio De Lucia, responsible with Guido for the case, the operation has “historical importance” and means settling a debt with the “martyrs” who have lost their lives in Italy, as he explained to public radio and television .

For the Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, it is a “great victory for the State”, which “does not give in to the mafia”. Meloni, who has traveled to Palermo, has pointed out that the arrest of Messina has occurred 30 years after that of another symbolic capo, Salvatore Totò Riina.

Meloni thanked all the institutions involved in the arrest “of the most significant exponent of mafia crime” on Twitter for their work. “The prevention and fight against mafia crimes (…) will continue to be the absolute priority of this government,” she emphasized.

Already before the media, he has spared no praise for the different authorities on a day that he has once again described as “historic” and for which the President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, who has spoken with the Minister of the Interior, has also expressed his satisfaction and with the head of the Carabinieri.

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, leader of the League, has also celebrated what he considers “a good day” for the country, although the satisfaction also extends to the entire political spectrum. “The mafia always loses in the end,” said the leader of the Democratic Party, Enrico Letta.

For his part, the main person in charge of the 5 Star Movement (M5S), Giuseppe Conte, stressed that “the mafia cannot win”, warning that “the State must not lower its defenses now or ever”.

The writer Roberto Saviano, persecuted by the mafia for his investigations, has described Messina as “the last sovereign of a murderous generation of Cosa Nostra” and has pointed out that, “obviously”, he remained hidden “in the land of he”. “Like all bosses, he was exactly where everyone knew he was,” he added.

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