Italy has struck what it hopes is a mortal blow against the mafia, arresting the man believed to be the new boss of bosses. Salvatore Lo Piccolo was seized near Palermo in Sicily, after being on the run for a quarter of a century. He had made his bid for mafia leadership after last year’s arrest of then-boss Bernardo Provenzano.
Lo Piccolo and his son Sandro were seized with two other minor figures while apparently hosting a mafia summit. They had been traced to a villa outside Palermo, which was surrounded by armed police. Shots were fired during the operation, but no-one was injured.
Prime Minister Romano Prodi said the arrests were a success for the state and for all honest citizens. His interior minister said it proved the police could dismantle the leadership of the Sicilian mafia. Former boss Provenzano – nicknamed the Tractor because he mowed down his victims as a young hitman – had evaded the police for 43 years.
Lo Piccolo’s arrest coincided with the day Sicilians commemorate mafia victims, including magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, who were murdered in 1992.