The brutal life and graveyard-filling crimes of ‘the last godfather’

Matteo Messina Denaro rose to power on the back of some of the most brutal crimes ever committed by the Sicilian mafia. No future Cosa Nostra leader might ever match his gruesome body count, writes Federico Varese, but the battle to replace him has already begun

Thursday 28 September 2023 14:27 BST
<p>Giovanna and Beatrice, sisters of the mafia boss, outside the cemetery</p>

Giovanna and Beatrice, sisters of the mafia boss, outside the cemetery

Italians think hard about what they want on their graves. Traditionally, the elderly would book a special session with a photographer to have a picture taken for the headstone; they try to look their best for eternity.

Matteo Messina Denaro’s family will face an uphill struggle, as most of the images of him are mugshots or facial composites produced by investigators. He was not a man who longed for the limelight, unlike New York’s ‘Teflon Don’ John Gotti.

At a very private burial on Wednesday, there was no religious service. Seven people walked behind the hearse, one carrying a bunch of yellow flowers; police closed the cemetery entrance to prevent waiting journalists from following three cars carrying relatives.

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