Salvatore Riina, Italian Mafia’s ‘Boss of Bosses,’ Dies at 87

The Italian justice minister, Andrea Orlando, allowed members of Mr. Riina’s household to go to him within the hospital on Thursday, his birthday.

Mr. Riina had 4 youngsters, one of whom, Salvo, wrote on Facebook, “You’re not Totò Riina to me, you’re just my dad.” Another of Mr. Riina’s sons is in jail for committing 4 murders.

Complete info on survivors was not instantly obtainable.

Mr. Riina, brief of stature however rife with nicknames — he was additionally known as U Curtu, or Shorty, as a result of of his 5-foot-2 top — got here from Corleone, a city within the Sicilian hinterland made well-known because the birthplace of the fictional character Vito Corleone in “Godfather” motion pictures.

But Mr. Riina’s butchery was all too actual.

After serving time in his youth for killing a person in an argument, he grew to become a soldier beneath the Mafia boss Luciano Leggio. He rose via the ranks, eliminating opponents and at instances working his gang in hiding, although apparently all the time from Sicily. By the early 1980s, Mr. Riina had solidified his dominance over the island and its international prison actions.

A automotive bombing ordered by Mr. Riina killed Paolo Borsellino, Sicily’s high anti-Mafia investigator, and his bodyguards in 1992.

Alessandro Fucarini/Associated Press

His group’s tentacles reached deep into all aspects of Italian life, from small companies compelled to pay for defense, to massive sectors of commerce the place they skimmed hundreds of thousands of . In Sicily, the mob had a status for delivering votes in change for favors. And nationally, Italy’s main politicians have been typically accused of entanglements with the sticky, and sometimes invisible, Mafia net.

Mr. Riina’s onetime driver, who grew to become a state informant, alleged that Giulio Andreotti, a former prime minister who dominated postwar Italian politics, as soon as exchanged an embrace and kiss with Mr. Riina. Mr. Andreotti denied it.

The codes of omertà, or silence, that ruled the Mafia and guarded its bosses started to erode within the 1980s as rival households and informants turned state’s proof. Enormous trials within the early 1990s resulted within the arrest and jailing of greater than 300 gangsters.

Tommaso Buscetta, an important Mafia turncoat residing within the United States beneath witness safety after dropping out to Mr. Riina in Sicily, started to testify in such trials in 1984. He finally mapped out a prison group presided over by Mr. Riina. In response, Mr. Riina is claimed to have ordered the homicide of Mr. Buscetta’s two sons, his brother and 33 of his different kinfolk.

But it was the homicide of the 2 anti-Mafia magistrates, Mr. Borsellino (and 5 of his bodyguards) and Mr. Falcone (alongside together with his spouse and two bodyguards) that shook Italians essentially the most and doomed Mr. Riina. Subsequent bombings in Rome, Milan and Florence in 1993 led to the crackdown on the Mafia and likewise contributed to the collapse of an previous political guard corroded with corruption.

Upon Mr. Riina’s arrest in 1993, the mayor of Corleone at the time proclaimed it “a moment of liberation for us,” and youngsters have been set free of college to have fun.

Bernardo Provenzano, who died final yr, succeeded Mr. Riina in 1993 because the operational “boss of all bosses.” But even from jail, Mr. Riina discovered a technique to proceed his brutality, ordering the kidnapping and strangling of the 14-year-old son of an informant. The boy’s physique was then dissolved in acid.

With Mr. Riina in jail, different mobs round Italy grew in brutality and affect, together with the Camorra in Naples, and the ‘Ndràngheta from Calabria, which operates a worldwide drug commerce.

But the specter of Mr. Riina, who hardly ever spoke in public, hung over the nation. In one of his 1993 trials, he refused to deal with the claims of one of his accusers.

“He does not have my moral stature,” Mr. Riina stated.

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