Cosa Nostra mafia leader Matteo Messina Denaro, who was arrested in January after being on the run for three decades, has died, ANSA news agency reported Monday.
Medical reports reported on Saturday that Denaro was in a hospital in central Italy and that he was in a coma and his nutrition had stopped.
Years ago, Messina Denaro (61 years old) suffered from colon cancer, and he was the one who made the decision to receive the treatment that led to his arrest following a visit to a clinic in the city of Palermo, the capital of Sicily.
The Italian judiciary issued several rulings imprisoning Messina for life, and he was detained in L'Aquila prison and receiving treatment in his cell, according to reports.
But in early August, Messina Denaro was transferred to the prisoners' ward of a local hospital, where his condition deteriorated in recent days.
According to media reports, Messina Denaro was in an “irreversible coma,” and doctors had stopped providing him with nutrition.
For years, Messina Denaro remained a prominent figure in the Cosa Nostra criminal mafia, around which the events of the famous movie “The Godfather” revolved.
He was one of its most ruthless leaders and was sentenced to six life imprisonment over the years, including for involvement in the assassination of Judge Giovanni Falcone in 1992.
He was convicted of involvement in bombings that caused deaths in Rome, Florence, and Milan in 1993, and also in the kidnapping of a 12-year-old boy, the son of a witness in the Falcone case, and his subsequent killing.
Messina Denaro went missing in the summer of 1993, and his name became the most wanted list in Italy.
In the following years, speculation abounded about his whereabouts. He was eventually found near his birthplace of Castelvetrano in western Sicily.
Investigators continued to track him for years, eavesdropping on his family members and friends.
During the eavesdropping operations, they heard a discussion about the health problems of a person whose name was not revealed, that he had cancer, and that he suffered from vision problems. Later, the investigators were certain that the person was Messina Denaro.
They used the public health system's database to search for male patients whose ages and medical records matched the person they were looking for, and they were able to find him.
But although his victims' families were relieved by his arrest, the gang leader did not reveal any information about criminal activities.
In interviews at his detention center, Messina Denaro denied being a member of Cosa Nostra.