Mafia ‘boss of bosses’ Salvatore ‘Toto’ Riina died early Friday in a hospital while serving multiple life sentences as the mastermind of a bloody strategy to assassinate Italian prosecutors and law enforcement trying to bring down the Cosa Nostra, Italian media reported Friday. He was 87.
Riina died hours after the Justice Minister had allowed his family members bedside visits Thursday, which was his birthday, after he had been placed in a medically induced coma at a hospital in Parma, northern Italy. Italian media said his health had deteriorated following
two recent surgeries.
News of the death was carried by the ANSA news agency, RAI state TV and all major newspaper websites. The Justice Ministry was not able to confirm the news immediately, and the prison would not take calls.
Riina, one of Sicily’s most notorious Mafia bosses who ruthlessly directed the mob’s criminal empire during 23 years in hiding, was serving 26 life sentences for murder convictions as a powerful Cosa Nostra boss. He was captured in Palermo, Sicily’s capital, in 1993 and imprisoned under a law that requires strict security for top mobsters, including being detained in isolated sections of prisons with limited time outside their cells.
Prosecutors accused Riina of masterminding a strategy, carried out over several years, to assassinate Italian prosecutors, police officials and others who were going after the Cosa Nostra, when he allegedly held the helm as the so-called “boss of bosses.”