Newstalk
Newstalk

14.09 17 Nov 2017


Share this article


One of the most feared Godfathers in the history of the Sicilian Mafia has died in a hospital for prisoners at the age of 87.

Salvatore 'Toto' Riina was serving 26 life sentences for a reign of terror that spanned decades - and he is thought to have ordered the murders of more than 150 people.

He had been in a medically induced coma after his health deteriorated, according to Italian media. He had reportedly been diagnosed with cancer.

Riina was one of Sicily's most notorious Mafia bosses, and was nicknamed The Beast during his time in charge of the crime group Cosa Nostra.

He was born to a poor farmer in Corleone in 1930. When he was 13, his father and seven-year-old brother were killed while trying to extract gunpowder from an unexploded American bomb.

Riina killed his first victim when he was 19 in order to join his local Mafia ring.

Starting on the bottom rung in the Mafia, Riina worked his way up from foot soldier to Luciano Leggio. In 1969, he was arrested and tried on several murder charges but freed because of jury intimidation.

He went on the run in the same year - and after becoming the acting boss of the Corleone crime family, Riina went on to lead the entire Mafia while in hiding.

Between 1981 and 1983 he sought to wipe out his rivals in Palermo, before cementing his rule by eliminating his allies too.

The most high-profile murders he ordered were in 1992, when two anti-Mafia judges who had brought more than 300 mobsters to trial were assassinated.

Among the most brutal killings was of a 13-year-old boy who was kidnapped to stop his father telling Mafia secrets. The teenager was strangled and dissolved in acid.

Riina evaded capture while living in Sicily for more than two decades, even after he had been handed multiple life sentences when a fellow mobster turned state witness.

Riina was captured in his own apartment in 1993, and sentenced to 26 life terms.

He had even registered his four children under their own names in a local school without being caught.

Riina asked to be released from prison in July on the grounds of poor health, but a judge said his care in the prisoners' wing of the hospital would be as good as on the outside.

His daughter posted an image of a woman's mouth with a finger over her lips and the word "shhh..." after the news broke.

A public funeral has been ruled out.


Share this article


Read more about

News

Most Popular

Live: Title

Now playing

00:00:00 / 00:00:00
Added to queue
Removed from queue

On Air

Share

Share


Up next

Episode title
Show
Duration

You currently have no podcasts in your queue.

Go to podcasts

On Air

TEAM 33

TEAM 33

07:00-08:00

Share

Up next

BREAKFAST BUSINESS

BREAKFAST BUSINESS

08:00-08:30

Share

BEST OF THE PAT KENNY SHOW

BEST OF THE PAT KENNY SHOW

08:30-09:30

Share

YOU COULDN'T MAKE IT UP

YOU COULDN'T MAKE IT UP

09:30-10:00

Share

DOWN TO BUSINESS

DOWN TO BUSINESS

10:00-12:00

Share

FUTUREPROOF

FUTUREPROOF

12:00-13:00

Share

OFF THE BALL

OFF THE BALL

13:00-18:00

Share

THE PICTURE SHOW

THE PICTURE SHOW

18:00-19:00

Share

TED RADIO HOUR

TED RADIO HOUR

19:00-20:00

Share

BEST OF THE PAT KENNY SHOW

BEST OF THE PAT KENNY SHOW

20:00-21:00

Share

DOCUMENTARY AND DRAMA ON NEWST...

DOCUMENTARY AND DRAMA ON NEWSTALK

21:00-22:00

Share

YOU COULDN'T MAKE IT UP

YOU COULDN'T MAKE IT UP

22:00-22:30

Share

BEST OF THE HARD SHOULDER

BEST OF THE HARD SHOULDER

22:30-23:30

Share

FUTUREPROOF

FUTUREPROOF

23:30-00:00

Share

FUTUREPROOF

FUTUREPROOF

00:00-00:15

Share

BEST OF NEWSTALK

BEST OF NEWSTALK

00:15-07:00

Share

DOCUMENTARY AND DRAMA ON NEWST...

DOCUMENTARY AND DRAMA ON NEWSTALK

07:00-08:00

Share

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

Share on