Feared Sicilian mafia boss Salvatore ‘Toto’ Riina is in a coma and ‘close to death’
Former “boss of bosses” Toto Riina, one of the most feared Godfathers in the history of the Sicilian mafia, is in a coma and close to death, Italian media reports said on Thursday.
Riina, who turned 87 on Thursday and has battled cancer, was put in a medically-induced coma earlier this week after his health deteriorated following two operations in northern Italy.
The mobster, who is thought to have ordered over 150 murders and has been serving 26 life sentences since 1993, had been subject to a harsh anti-mafia regime that banned visitors.
But Health Minister Andrea Orlando signed a waiver allowing his family to say their goodbyes.
His wife and one of his daughters were expected to visit him in the prisoners’ wing of a hospital in Parma, media reports said.
Three of his children have permission to see him. Riina’s eldest son Giovanni is serving a life sentence for four murders.
“You’re not Toto Riina to me, you’re just my dad. And I wish you happy birthday dad on this sad but important day, I love you,” his other son Salvatore wrote on Facebook on Thursday.
An ageing Riina asked in July to be released from prison on the grounds of serious illness – a request that was denied after a court ruled the care he received behind bars was as good as he would get on the outside.
Doctors said at the time that the former boss was “lucid”. He was caught on a wiretap earlier this year saying he “regrets nothing … they’ll never break me, even if they give me 3,000 years” in jail.
Riina’s most high-profile ordered hits were the assassinations in 1992 of anti-mafia judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, who had worked fearlessly to bring more than 300 mobsters to trial in 1987.
He was also behind a series of bombings in Rome, Milan and Florence that killed 10 people.
“God have mercy on him, as we won’t,” said an association for victims of the Florence blast, according to the Fatto Quotidiano daily.