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Salvatore Riina

Italian mobster and chief of the Sicilian Mafia

Died when: 87 years 1 days (1044 months)
Star Sign: Scorpio


Salvatore Riina

Salvatore Riina (Italian pronunciation: [salvaˈtoːre (toˈtɔ r)riˈiːna]; 16 November 1930 – 17 November 2017), called Totò 'u Curtu (Sicilian for '"Totò the Short"', Totò being the diminutive of Salvatore), was an Italian mobster and chief of the Sicilian Mafia, known for a ruthless murder campaign that reached a peak in the early 1990s with the assassinations of Antimafia Commission prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, resulting in widespread public outcry and a major crackdown by the authorities.

He was also known by the nicknames la belva ("the beast") and il capo dei capi (Sicilian: 'u capu di 'i capi, "the boss of bosses").

Riina succeeded Luciano Leggio as head of the Corleonesi criminal organisation in the mid 1970s and achieved dominance through a campaign of violence, which caused police to target his rivals.

Riina had been a fugitive since the late 1960s after he was indicted on a murder charge.He was less vulnerable to law enforcement's reaction to his methods, as the policing removed many of the established chiefs who had traditionally sought influence through bribery.

In violation of established Mafia codes, Riina advocated the killing of women and children, and killed blameless members of the public solely to distract law enforcement agencies.

Hit man Giovanni Brusca estimated he murdered between 100 and 200 people on behalf of Riina.Although this scorched-earth policy neutralized any internal threat to Riina's position, he increasingly showed a lack of his earlier guile by bringing his organisation into open confrontation with the state.

As part of the Maxi Trial of 1986, Riina was sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia for Mafia association and multiple murder.

After 23 years living as a fugitive, he was captured in 1993, provoking a series of indiscriminate bombings of art galleries and churches by his organisation.

His lack of repentance subjected him to the stringent Article 41-bis prison regime until his death on 17 November 2017.

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