“I always felt free” says former fugitive Riina

Riina pictured after his arrest in 1993

PALERMO – The notorious former boss of Cosa Nostra has revealed details of a luxurious life during his 24 years on the run.

 His revelations come as President Giorgio Napolitano was preparing to give evidence in a Palermo court on Tuesday about alleged historic links between the police and the Mafia in Sicily.

 Salvatore Riina, nicknamed The Beast “la Belva” during his time as boss of the Corleonesi mob, allegedly lived undisturbed by the authorities near his home town of Corleone despite “going into hiding” after his indictment for murder in 1969.

 He spoke of his life as a fugitive for the first time on Monday, and has also requested the chance to give evidence via video-link on Mafia-state relations.

 Whilst on the run, Riina married and raised three children, managing to do so without giving up a life of luxury. He admitted to always living in elegant villas with pools “without ever having a summer where he didn’t go to the seaside.”

 After his wedding on April 6 1974 Riina even went on honeymoon with his young bride, he had already been on the run for five years at the time. Subsequently he travelled across Italy, visiting Naples, Montecassino and Venice, amongst others.

 Napolitano’s highly anticipated testimony, meanwhile, relates to the period 1992-1994, during which time prosecutors are suspected of negotiating with Mafia chiefs in order to halt a spate of bombing attacks following Riina’s capture in Jan 1993.  

 The president will be questioned particularly about events of the summer of 1993, which, former head of Italian intelligence agency Sisde, Domenico Salazar, described as a period of “general social pacification.”