Italy’s reputed No.1 Mafia boss, Bernardo Provenzano, was arrested today in Sicily, the Interior Ministry said.
Provenzano, Italy’s most wanted man, went on the run more than four decades ago and is believed to have taken over the Sicilian Mafia after the 1993 arrest of former boss Salvatore “Toto” Riina in Palermo.
Police had arrested “the man who, after the arrest of Toto Riina, is considered the most important person from Cosa Nostra,” Interior Ministry Undersecretary Alfredo Mantovano said.
A spokesman for the Palermo police, Agent Daniele Macaluso, said Provenzano had been arrested “a short while ago” in Corleone, 37 miles south of Palermo and was being driven back to the Sicilian capital.
As recently as last month, Provenzano’s former lawyer was quoted as telling an Italian newspaper that the elusive man was dead.
“I think he (Provenzano)’s dead, and has been dead for several years,” Salvatore Traina was quoted as telling Rome-based daily La Repubblica.
“They have looked for him everywhere, they have looked intensely for years but they can’t find him. This must mean something.”
Leoluca Orlando, former mayor of Palermo, immediately released a statement praising police and prosecutors in the Sicilian capital.