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Italy mafia boss Messina Denaro in coma — reports

September 23, 2023

The Cosa Nostra chief, who was caught by police in January after three decades on the run, has fallen into a coma, Italian media report. At his own request, life-sustaining measures have been discontinued.

Police holding Matteo Messina Denaro
Since his arrest in early 2023, Messina Denaro's health has deteriorated considerablyImage: ITALIAN CARABINIERI PRESS OFFICE/AFP

Italian media reported on Saturday that mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro, who was captured in January after 30 years on the run, was in a coma.

Messina Denaro has colon cancer and doctors say he will not recover. At his own request, life-sustaining measures have been discontinued, doctors from the hospital in the central Italian city of L'Aguila announced. 

In early August, the 61-year-old head of Sicily's Cosa Nostra mafia underwent intestinal surgery at L'Aguila's San Salvatore hospital. While the operation was successful, his advanced colon cancer caused an irreversible deterioration in his health, Italian media quoted sources as saying.

On Friday, Messina Denaro suffered severe bleeding and shortly afterwards fell into an "irreversible coma," Italian news agency ANSA reported.

Italy’s most-wanted mafia boss arrested

30 years on the run

Messina Denaro went into hiding in 1993 and had long been considered Italy's most wanted fugitive.

In January, police tracked him down and arrested him at a private cancer clinic in Palermo where he was undergoing treatment under a false name.

Messian Denaro was sentenced to life in prison for his role in a series of grisly murders and deadly bombings in Italy. Among other crimes, he is blamed for the 1992 car bombings that killed leading anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.

In addition to the assassinations, he was accused, among other things, of involvement in mafia attacks in Rome, Milan and Florence in 1993, in which a total of 10 people were killed.

Messina Denaro was considered a close confidante of former mafia crime bosses Bernardo Provenzano and Salvatore "Toto" Riina.

dh/nm (AFP, dpa)