Jailed Sicilian mafia ‘boss of bosses’ Riina to stay in jail

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Bologna (Italy), July 19 (IANS/AKI) Salvatore ‘Toto’ Riina, the jailed 86-year-old former head of the Sicilian Mafia should not leave prison, an Italian court decreed Wednesday, rejecting a request to put him under house arrest on health grounds.

Riina “could not receive better care and assistance” elsewhere than he is currently getting in a high-security special ward for prisoners at a hospital in Parma in northern Italy, judges in the city of Bologna ruled.

Riina, who is believed to be suffering from severe kidney, neurological and heart problems, is receiving treatment that includes daily physiotherapy, the judges said.

“Riina will be staying in hospital, but we intend to appeal,” said his lawyer, Luca Cianfaroni.

The ruling by the Bologna court came on the 25th anniversary of the murder of anti-mafia magistrate Paolo Borsellino in a massive car-bombing in Palermo that was masterminded by Riina.

The head of the Italian parliament’s anti-mafia commission, Rosy Bindi, who recently visited Riina in hospital, welcomed the court ruling, calling it “just”.

Giovanna Maggiani Chelli, president of a mafia victims’ group, hailed the latest decision on Riina as a “strong, clear and fair message from the state.”

Also on Wednesday, anti-mafia police impounded over 1.5 million euros of assets belonging to Riina and members of his family, mainly in the provinces of Palermo and Trapani, including a villa, plots of land, bank assets and three companies.

Despite previous major seizures of assets belonging to Riina, his family, notably his wife, had enjoyed access to “significant and continuous” amounts of cash, according to investigators.

Although she had no official income, Riina’s wife had written him and other jailed relatives cheques for more than 42,000 euros between 2007 and 2013, investigators said.

Last month, Italy’s top appeals body sparked public outrage when it asked a lower court to reconsider whether the ailing Riina deserved the “right to die in dignity” in a place other than a prison.

Riina, whose notorious brutality earned him the nickname “The Beast,” is serving multiple life imprisonment sentences in solitary confinement.

He was arrested in 1993 in Palermo after 24 years on the run and was the mastermind behind several high-profile mafia murders in the 1980s and 1990s, including Borsellino’s and that of the magistrate’s colleague Giovanni Falcone.

“I am not going to repent … they will not bow me…I can do 3,000 years (in prison) let alone 30,” Riina was alleged recorded as saying to his wife when she paid him a visit in February.

–IANS/AKI

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