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Matteo Messina Denara: The last godfather, dead at 61

Matteo Messina Denara, a feared mafia boss dubbed the “last godfather” in the Iralian press, has died at the age of 61 after a long battle with cancer.

L’Aquila mayor Pierluigi Biondi told Italian news agency ANSA that Dennaro died in in hospital “following a worsening of his illness”.

He said his death “puts an end to a story of violence and blood, suffering and heroism”, referring to assassinated magistrates Paolo Borsellino and Giovanni Falcone.


Punto a una vicenda che racconta di violenza e sangue, sofferenze ed eroismi.

L’epilogo di una esistenza vissuta senza rimorsi né pentimenti, un capitolo doloroso della storia recente che non possiamo cancellare.

— Pierluigi Biondi 🇮🇹 (@PierluigiBiondi) September 25, 2023

“This is the epilogue of a life lived without remorse or regret, a painful chapter of our recent history which we cannot forget.”

The mafia boss was arrested by Italian police last January at a Palermo medical facility, where he was receiving cancer treatment under the alias Andrea Bonafede.

He was arrested after spending 30 years on the run, having been tried and sentenced to life in jail in absentia over numerous murders.

He was also found guilty of the deadly 1993 bomb attacks in Milan, Florence and Rome, and the kidnapping, torture and killing of the 11-year-old son of a mafioso-turned-state witness.

Messina Denaro was the last mafia super-boss still on the run. His ability to escape justice rivals that of Totò Riina, who had been on the run for 23 years before his arrest, and Bernardo Provenzano, who had been on the run for 38 years.

Messina Denaro became the last of the ruthless big bosses from the 1990s to remain on the run, commanding wealth and power from the shadows.

Despite his arrest and death, investigators are still trying to unravel the complex network that kept the mafia boss’s whereabouts and identity secret all these years.

READ ALSO: How cancer treatment led Italian police to fugitive mafia boss