The Daily Mail reports that imprisoned Sicilian Cosa Nostra crime lord Salvatore ‘Toto’ Riina, known as ‘The Beast’ for his propensity for violence, has died. He was 87.
MILAN (AP) - Mafia 'boss of bosses' Salvatore 'Toto' Riina, who was serving 26 life sentences as the mastermind of a bloody strategy to assassinate both rivals and Italian prosecutors and law enforcement trying to bring down Cosa Nostra, died early Friday.
Riina died the day after his 87th birthday and hours after the Justice Ministry had agreed to allow family members at his bedside. He had been in a medically induced coma following two surgeries in recent weeks in the prison wing of a hospital in Parma, northern Italy. The ministry, without elaboration, confirmed his death.
Riina, one of Sicily's most notorious Mafia bosses who ruthlessly directed the mob's criminal empire during 23 years in hiding, was serving the life sentences for multiple murder convictions, some dating back to the 1950s.
A farmer's son from Corleone, a rocky hill town with notoriety as a Mafia stronghold near Palermo, he carved out a particularly ruthless reputation in a crime syndicate notorious for its evil.
Rival bosses were mowed down in the 1970s and early 1980s in Palermo - murders blamed on mobsters happened at the rate of practically one a day in the Sicilian capital in those years - as Riina orchestrated his rise to power. In his campaign for supremacy, he violated many of Cosa Nostra's rules of conduct, including no longer sparing innocent women and children from the spray of hitmen's bullets.
He was captured in 1993 in Palermo, where he had an apartment hideout, and imprisoned under a special law that requires strict security for top mobsters, including being detained in isolated sections of prisons with limited time outside of their cells.
During the height of his power, prosecutors accused Riina of masterminding a strategy, carried out over several years, to assassinate Italian prosecutors, police officials and others who were going after Cosa Nostra.
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