Doctors probed as Mafia kingpin's support system unravels

 ROME --  Following Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro’s arrest, Italian police continued to hunt Wednesday for any other accomplices and accessories who may have knowingly helped or covered for the ex-fugitive. After the raiding of the ex-mafia boss’s hideout in Sicily, diaries were uncovered, which play a key-role in the unraveling of his support network and have led to two more doctors to be placed under investigation as of this morning.

 Following the arrest, police started to look into the medical past of Messina Denaro, who had been living under the alias of Andrea Bonafede. It has since been revealed that in addition to the Palermo Clinic where he was nabbed, two other hospitals which have treated the mobster in recent years may have employed staff who were aware of their patient’s true identity. 

 The first is Abele Ajello in Mazara del Vallo where Denaro underwent surgery in 2020 for colon adenocarcinoma. The second is the Trapani hospital where the ex-mafia boss did a ‘pet scan’ which can be used for the study of neoplastic diseases, but for which hospitalization is not necessary and uncommon. However, Bonafede’s medical records reveal that following the scan he was hospitalized for up to a month which has led investigators to believe that the man in the hospital might have been the real Andrea Bonafede who had ‘lent’ Messina Denaro his identity.

The two doctors in question are Dr. Filippo Zerilli, the head of Oncology at the hospital where Denaro was being treated, and Alfonso Tumbarello who is a general practitioner in Campobello di Mazara. Tumbarello according to the medical records would have treated both the actual Bonafede and Denaro within his medical career. The police report it is unlikely for Dr. Tumbarello to have treated both of them, providing them with medication, regular visits, and treatment without noticing that he was in fact treating two different people including one super fugitive. In addition to this, Tumbarella also had an extensive political past, where his opposing administrations were dissolved by the mafia. 

 The two doctors may however not be the only two healthcare professionals facing criminal charges, as the raid of Denaro’s driver’s car uncovered several notes and cellphones which contained the telephone numbers of multiple other doctors and clinics within the area. This may not come as a surprise to the police as previous investigations, including the Provenzano investigation of 2006, had already established a strong link between the corrupt world of Sicilian Healthcare and the Mafia.