At the age of 87, Toto Riina, one of the most feared and vehement godfathers in the history of the Sicilian Mafia has died in prison.
Riina, originally a farmer’s son from the town of Corleone, took control of the Cosa Nostra in the 1970’s and built his empire, placing him at the dictating forefront of the Mafia for almost two decades. Known as the “boss of bosses”, Toto Riina died after complications following a surgical procedure which left him placed in a medically induced coma. His death, which was confirmed by authorities on the morning of Friday 17th November, comes after serving 24 years in prison, where he was initially sentenced to 26 life sentences in 1993 after being found to have ordered the killings of over one hundred and fifty people during his reign in the Mafia.
He is most famously known for the notorious killings of anti mafia commission prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, which heightened the peak of his supremacy in the 1990’s, both of which were killed by car bombs that Riina ordered. Also knows as “the Beast” because of his vindictive ways, Riina was an impenitent criminal who not only assassinated his rivals on a mass scale in the 1980s and 90s, but also deliberately targeted journalists and judges who he believed posed a threat to his empire.
Not only did he play a key role in the Mafia’s rise to leadership, he also kept his sinister ways running down his bloodline. When he was only of 17, Riina instructed his son to carry out his first murder. He was told to kidnap and strangle a businessman in the countryside; a murder which would be the teenagers introduction into the Cosa Nostra.
Since his imprisonment, the Sicilian Mafia has become far weaker and Riina found himself unsuccessfully leading the mafia from his prison cell in Parma. However, this does not mean the Mafia is short of power and is to this day an organization that dictates and shapes both the social and economic lives of those who inhabit Sicily. With this being said, Toto Riina’s death marks the end of an era, which saw the Italian law at times feeling hopeless at the hands of some of the masterminds behind the infamous Italian Mafia.