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


Mr. Riina had 4 youngsters, one in every 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.

Mr. Riina, in need of stature however rife with nicknames — he was additionally known as U Curtu, or Shorty, due to his 5-foot-2 peak — 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 rivals and at occasions working his gang in hiding, although apparently at all times from Sicily. By the early 1980s, Mr. Riina had solidified his dominance over the island and its world legal actions.


A automobile 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 sides of Italian life, from small companies compelled to pay for cover, to mbadive sectors of commerce the place they skimmed hundreds of thousands of . In Sicily, the mob had a fame for delivering votes in alternate for favors. And nationally, Italy’s main politicians had been typically accused of entanglements with the sticky, and sometimes invisible, Mafia internet.

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, a vital 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 legal 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 relations.

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But it was the homicide of the 2 anti-Mafia magistrates, Mr. Borsellino (and 5 of his bodyguards) and Mr. Falcone (alongside along with his spouse and two bodyguards) that shook Italians probably 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 outdated political guard corroded with corruption.

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

Bernardo Provenzano, who died final 12 months, succeeded Mr. Riina in 1993 because the operational “boss of all bosses.” But even from jail, Mr. Riina discovered a solution 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 in every of his 1993 trials, he refused to handle the claims of one in every of his accusers.

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

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