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ITALY’S DEADLIEST MAFIA NETTED

By Vision Reporter

Added 13th April 2006 03:00 AM


Italy’s “super-fugitive”, a man who, at 73, has evaded police arrest since 1963 was finally brought down. The news of the arrest even bumped national election results off the top spot on television news bulletins. This was more exciting than all those action mafia movies put together beca


Italy’s “super-fugitive”, a man who, at 73, has evaded police arrest since 1963 was finally brought down. The news of the arrest even bumped national election results off the top spot on television news bulletins. This was more exciting than all those action mafia movies put together beca

By Sebidde Kiryowa
and Agencies

Italy’s “super-fugitive”, a man who, at 73, has evaded police arrest since 1963 was finally brought down. The news of the arrest even bumped national election results off the top spot on television news bulletins. This was more exciting than all those action mafia movies put together because it was real!

He is Bernardo Provenzano, the head of the Corleonesi, a crime family from the village of Corleone, and as such Boss of Bosses of the entire Sicilian Mafia. The last photo police had of him was taken in 1959 when he was only 25! The police had been using computer depictions of how he might have aged, aided by information from turncoat Mafiosi.

After Police failed to catch him, Provenzano was sentenced in absentia to life in jail in connection with the Mafia’s most notorious crimes, including the killings in 1992 of top anti-Mafia magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.

Italian Police said they had found cryptic notes on small pieces of paper, which Provenzano used to communicate with accomplices and family. More notes were found in the pockets of the jeans he was wearing when he was arrested.

According to Gangsters Incorporated, Provenzano was raised in Corleone and joined the Mafia in his late teens. At the time, Michele Navarra was the head of the Corleonisi, but Provenzano became close to Luciano Leggio, a young and ambitious mobster. Navarra and Leggio went to war against each other in the mid-1950s.

In September 1958, Provenzano was one of the 14 gunmen who backed up Leggio in the ambush and murder of Navarra. Leggio subsequently became the head of the Family.

For five years, Provenzano helped Leggio hunt down and kill many of Navarra’s supporters. On September 10, 1963 an arrest warrant was issued against Provenzano for the murder of one of Navarra’s men. Provenzano went on the run along with most of the Corleonisi.

Leggio went to prison for murder in 1974, leaving Totò Riina in charge and Provenzano became the second in command.

Riina was incredibly ruthless and started the Mafia war of 1981/82, which left over a thousand Mafia dead and resulted in the Corleonisi becoming the dominant Mafia Family in Sicily.

Provenzano was believed to operate behind the scenes, dealing with the financial side of the criminal enterprises he and Riina orchestrated, particularly heroin trafficking.

Riina was arrested in January 1993 and sentenced to life imprisonment for ordering dozens of murders, including two high-profile bombings that killed two judges.

In 1992, Provenzano’s wife and two grown-up sons came out from hiding, leading to suspicions that Provenzano was dead.

Provenzano became the boss of the Corleonisi after Riina’s arrest in 1993.
Many people believe it is impossible for one man to remain undetected for such a long time, especially on a small island like Sicily, and theorise that ‘Uncle Bernie’, as he is known to his friends, has an understanding with the Italian authorities under which he was not harassed.

There is proof that he travelled recently to France and underwent a surgical operation, even being reimbursed by the Italian National Health Care system.

Provenzano was arrested while hiding in a farmhouse near Corleone in Sicily on Tuesday by 50 policemen. Police said they tracked a package that had been sent to Provenzano by his wife, who lived in Corleone.

Investigators say that while running the Mafia for the past 13 years, Provenzano instituted a “kinder, gentler” style so as to give the crime organisation a lower profile in the hope that the police would pay it less attention.

National anti-Mafia prosecutor Pietro Grasso accused businessmen, politicians and other professionals of shielding Provenzano.

Provenzano, who put up no resistance and acknowledged his identity after first denying it, appeared surprised to be caught, police said. He was flown to Palermo and taken to the main police station. An angry crowd reportedly shouted “Assassin” and “Bastard” at Provenzano as policemen wearing black balaclavas escorted him into the building.

ITALY’S DEADLIEST MAFIA NETTED

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