ROME >> Toto Riina, the jailed former head of the Sicilian Mafia, died early Friday in a special hospital ward for prisoners a day after turning 87.
Riina, who was serving multiple life sentences for murder, died in Parma, the northern city where he had been detained for years, the Italian news agency ANSA said.
According to media reports from the last 24 hours, he had recently lapsed into a coma following two operations, and the Justice Ministry had authorized his relatives to be at his bedside.
“For me you are not Toto Riina, you are my dad. And on this day that for me is sad but important, I wish you a happy birthday dad. I love you,” his son Giuseppe Salvatore, who has also been convicted of Mafia crimes, wrote on Facebook on Thursday.
Riina led the Sicilian Mafia, or Cosa Nostra, until his arrest in Palermo in 1993, after spending 24 years as a fugitive. His brutality earned him the nickname “The Beast.”
He masterminded several high-profile murders of the 1980s and 1990s, including those of anti-Mafia magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.
Even decades after his arrest, he was still being tried for other Mafia crimes, including in connection to an alleged non-aggression pact between Cosa Nostra and Italian authorities in the 1990s.