The godfather of the Sicilian mafia, Matteo Messina Denaro, captured in January after three decades on the run, is in a coma in hospital and is no longer fed, Italian media said on Saturday.
Aged 61, he has suffered from colon cancer for several years and it was his decision to seek treatment that led to his arrest following a visit to a clinic in the Sicilian capital, Palermo.
After his arrest, Matteo Messina Denaro, sentenced to life imprisonment six times, was imprisoned in a high security prison in L’Aquila (in central Italy), where he continued his treatment, according to information available.
The state of health of the mafioso, hospitalized at the beginning of August, has deteriorated in recent days and he is now in an “irreversible coma”, according to Italian media which specify that the doctors have stopped feeding him and that he asked not to be resuscitated.
Nicknamed Diabolik, named after a criminal protagonist of a famous Italian comic strip of which he himself is an admirer, Matteo Messina Denaro was the undisputed leader of Cosa Nostra in the province of Trapani, in western Sicily, although his power overflowed as far as Palermo.
He was a ruthless assassin, the last representative of the old guard of Cosa Nostra.
In 1992, he was part of a group of thugs that Salvatore Riina (1930-2017), the “capo dei capi” (the leader of leaders), had sent to Rome to assassinate the anti-mafia judge Giovanni Falcone. They were finally called back by “the beast”, who killed the judge in a bomb attack on May 23 near Palermo.
This important decision was taken with the agreement of other sponsors, including Messina Denaro, who in 2020 will be sentenced in absentia to life in prison for his involvement.
Matteo Messina Denaro disappeared in the summer of 1993, becoming Italy’s most wanted person. The years that followed were marked by intense speculation about where he had gone. Eventually it was discovered that he had been staying near his hometown of Castelvetrano in western Sicily.
For years, investigators combed the Sicilian countryside for possible hiding places, wiretapping his family members and friends, ultimately leading to his arrest.