Italy's 'top Mafia boss' is arrested

The reputed head of Italy's Mafia, Bernardo Provenzano, was arrested today in the Sicilian countryside after more than 40 years on the run, the Interior Ministry said.

Provenzano, Italy's most wanted man, is believed to have taken over the Sicilian Mafia after the 1993 arrest of former boss Salvatore "Toto" Riina in Palermo.

Police had arrested "the man who, after the arrest of Toto Riina, is considered the most important person from Cosa Nostra," Interior Ministry Undersecretary Alfredo Mantovano said. He described the development as "an important step forward ... for the entire nation."

Italy's top anti-mafia prosecutor, Piero Grasso, who for years as Palermo's chief prosecutor had personally led the hunt for Provenzano, said on RAI radio that he felt "great satisfaction, great emotion" at the arrest.

A spokesman for the Palermo police, Agent Daniele Macaluso, said Provenzano had been arrested during the morning near Corleone, 37 miles south of Palermo and was being driven back to the Sicilian capital.

Provenzano has proven an elusive target.

Investigators have said they believe Provenzano has spent most of his years as a fugitive moving from house to house across Sicily, thanks largely to the help of Sicilians' reluctance to inform authorities.

Authorities even tracked the alleged mobster to a clinic in Marseille, France, where he apparently had prostate surgery, and showed a composite to clinic personnel.

As recently as last month, Provenzano's former lawyer was quoted as telling an Italian newspaper that the man was dead.

"I think he's dead, and has been dead for several years," Salvatore Traina was quoted as telling Rome-based daily La Repubblica. "They have looked for him everywhere, they have looked intensely for years but they can't find him. This must mean something."

Leoluca Orlando, former mayor of Palermo, immediately released a statement praising police and prosecutors in the Sicilian capital.

News of the arrest also prompted praise from many politicians, including President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Interactive / Mobile Developer

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Midweight

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Front End Developer

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Front End Developer - Midweight / Senior

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks