Italy’s most wanted mafia boss, Matteo Messina Denaro was finally arrested in Sicily. He had been having appointments at the hospital for some time, Italy’s Ansa news agency reported, adding police had secretly moved officers into the building overnight to guard the safety of other patients.
Italian news agencies said he is believed to be suffering from cancer.
Last year police said he was still able to issue commands concerning the way the mafia was run in the area around the western Sicilian city of Trapani, his regional stronghold, despite being on the run.
Messina Denaro is also accused of being solely or jointly responsible for numerous other murders in the 1990s.
In 1993, he helped organise the kidnapping of a 12-year-old boy, Giuseppe Di Matteo, in an attempt to dissuade his father from giving evidence against the mafia, prosecutors say.
The boy was held in captivity for two years before he was strangled, and his body dissolved in acid.
Messina Denaro was taken to a secret location immediately after the arrest, Italian state TV reported.
Italy’s prime minister Giorgia Meloni thanked authorities for the arrest and deemed the operation a “great victory for the state that shows it never gives up in the face of the mafia”.
“The prevention and fight against mafia crime … will continue to be an absolute priority of this government,” Meloni said in a post on Twitter.
Arrest of the most wanted mafia boss was a huge victory for both Italian people and Government.