Sicily’s mafia ‘boss of bosses’ Toto Riina dies at 87

Parma: Toto Riina, who ruled the Sicilian crime group Cosa Nostra ruthlessly for over two decades, died in the prisoners’ wing of a hospital in Parma, Italy, early last Friday, a day after he turned 87.

His family was at his bedside in his final moments. Riina had cancer and was in a coma after two recent surgeries.

After becoming Cosa Nostra’s boss in 1970, he is said to have ordered over 150 killings including the 1992 murders of judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino who had fought hard to overthrow the Sicilian mafia.

Riina, who was known as the “boss of bosses”, has been serving 26 life terms.

He was born in 1930 in Corleone, a village near Palermo, which became famous after Francis Ford Coppola made the film trilogy Godfather.

Riina killed his first victim at 19, was jailed for six years for committing the second murder, worked under crime boss Luciano Leggio after his release, went into hiding in 1969 and led the Sicilian mafia from hiding for 23 years after Leggio was jailed.

Riina’s trouble started after a fellow criminal turned state witness. Although Riina hit back eliminating the mobster’s relatives, he was finally arrested in Palermo in 1993 following a tip-off from a rival.