Man arrested for Borsellino killing

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ROME - Police revealed yesterday that they had arrested a man believed to have prepared the car bomb that massacred a leading anti-Mafia judge and his five bodyguards in the middle of Palermo during the summer, writes Patricia Clough. The arrest of Vincenzo Scarantino, 27, was a 'significant step' in investigations into the murder of Judge Paolo Borsellino, said Giovanni Tinebra, the Caltanisetta magistrate who is leading the inquiries. It could throw light on the murder of Italy's top Mafia fighter, Judge Giovanni Falcone, earlier this year.

Scarantino, a convicted criminal with family connections to a drug-trafficking Mafia clan, is believed to have packed some 80kg (176lb) of explosives into a stolen Fiat 126 which blew up on 19 July outside the block of flats where Judge Borsellino was visiting his mother. Police said they were looking for a second man who they believe detonated the bomb by remote control from a nearby rooftop. The investigators will now be aiming to find out who is behind the massacre.

They disclosed that they came upon Scarantino thanks to an 'error' by the Mafia. Separate investigations into the activities of three Palermo youths accused of raping a 26-year-old shop assistant revealed that they had broken into a mechanic's workshop and stolen a Fiat 126 belonging to a relative of theirs. The removal of the three to the safety of a prison on the Italian mainland and patient grilling elicited the information that the man who wanted the car was Scarantino. The 'error' they said was to have the car stolen for them by youths who were foolish enough to get themselves arrested and investigated for rape.