Wed, Jun 07, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Italy irate over idea of releasing dying mafia boss from jail

Reuters, ROME

Italian politicians and relatives of victims of organized crime have voiced anger at a court ruling that opens the way for an ailing mafia boss known as “The Beast” to be freed to “die with dignity.”

Salvatore “Toto” Riina, from the Sicilian hill town of Corleone made famous in The Godfather movies, was jailed in 1993. Known for his exceptional brutality, he was for years the Sicilian mafia’s “Boss of all Bosses.”

Riina declared a “war against the state” and ordered the killings of magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino in 1992. The two men were blown up by bombs in attacks that left nine others dead.

Responding to a request by Riina’s lawyers, Italy highest court ruled late on Monday that he had a right to “die with dignity” under house arrest like any other terminally ill prisoner.

He is believed to have cancer, heart problems and Parkinson’s disease.

The final decision rests with a parole board in Bologna, where Riina, 86, is being held. Last year it dismissed a petition for his release and it was unclear when it would review its decision following the high court’s ruling.

“The court should have remembered that the person before them is same one who blew to bits servants of the state and ordered that a little boy be dissolved in acid,” Salvatore Borsellino, brother of the slain magistrate, told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

He was referring to 13-year-old Giuseppe Di Matteo, who was strangled and his body dissolved in acid in 1996 to punish his father, a former mafia member who collaborated with police.

Leaders across the political spectrum agreed Riina should spend his final days in prison.

“We will not allow Riina to return to Corleone,” said Carmelo Miceli, head of the center-left Democratic Party in Palermo.

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