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'Mafioso' is arrested as he watches Mafia show

A leading Mafia suspect, on the run since the boss of the Cosa Nostra was captured last month, was arrested at his girlfriend's home while watching Capo di Capi, the television drama that tells the true story of the blood-thirsty mafioso Toto Riina.

Michele Catalano, 48, is said to be an important sidekick of Salvatore Lo Piccolo, the man who took over the running of Cosa Nostra after the arrest of Bernardo Provenzano in April 2006. Provenzano became "boss of bosses" after the arrest of Riina in 1993.

Operating from the San Filippo Neri quarter of Palermo, Catalano's alleged speciality was running illegal gambling dens.

Capo di Capi, screened by Mediaset's Channel 5, owned by the Berlusconi family, has been a huge success but has been criticised by the Minister of Justice, Clemente Mastella, for portraying Riina as a hero. Mr Mastella demanded that the final episode be cancelled but Mediaset declined to do so.

Riina, who is serving life for murder, is also believed to be a fan of the drama series. He was responsible for a massive escalation of violence in the early 1990s, culminating in the assassinations of the investigating magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.