Italy’s Most Powerful Mafia ‘Boss of Bosses’ Dies In Jail
Notorious Sicilian Mafia “boss of all bosses” Salvatore “Toto” Riina has died from cancer in jail, aged 87.
Riina was serving 26 life sentences and is believed to have ordered more than 150 murders.
The head of the feared Cosa Nostra spent nearly a quarter of a century on the run before being jailed in 1993. He ordered more murders from jail.
As well as kidney cancer, he was said to have been suffering from a heart condition and Parkinson’s disease.
Riina had been in a medically induced coma and his family had been given special permission to visit him in the prisoners’ wing of the hospital in Parma, northern Italy.
Riina was born in 1930 to poor farmers in Corleone, Sicily – the birthplace of Don Corleone, the fictional Godfather in Francis Ford Coppola’s film trilogy.
His father was killed when he was 13 and at 19 he joined the local Mafia, committing his first murder to gain entry.
Riina seized control of the Cosa Nostra crime group in the 1970s. His reputation for cruelty earned him the nickname “The Beast”.
He spent 24 years as a fugitive, remaining all the while on the island of Sicily.
In 1992, two anti-Mafia judges – Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, who had brought scores of mobsters to trial in the 1980s – were killed in Riina’s “war against the state”.
A year later, he was finally captured.
Even in detention, Riina ordered the murder of a 13-year-old boy kidnapped to try to prevent his father revealing information about the Mafia. The boy was strangled and his body dissolved in acid.
And, partly in protest at his arrest, his associates carried out a series of bombings in Rome, Milan and Florence in 1993, leaving 10 people dead.
Riina had been imprisoned under the “Article 41-bis prison regime” imposing tight security measures on Mafiosos intended to completely cut off prisoners from their criminal contacts.
The regime includes strictly limited family visits.
Petitions for him to be released into house arrest for his last days were met with angry protests from the relatives of some of his many victims.
Earlier this year, Riina was recorded on a wiretep saying he “regrets nothing… They’ll never break me, even if they give me 3,000 years” in jail, reported AFP news agency.
The mobster’s eldest son, Giovanni, is serving a life sentence in jail for four murders.