Mafia godfather denies kissing Italy's ex-PM

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Giulio Andreotti, pictured here in 1986, was acquitted of meeting Salvatore "Totò" Riina. Photo: Dominique Gutekunst/AFP
14:43 CEST+02:00
Mafia kingpin Salvatore "Totò" Riina has reportedly denied kissing Giulio Andreotti, who served seven terms as prime minister, but told a fellow crime boss the pair did meet.

Walking around the yard in Milan’s Opera prison, the 83-year-old Sicilian told a fellow crime boss he met with the former premier but the pair did not greet each other with a kiss.

“[Turncoat] Balduccio Di Maggio says that I accompanied him and kissed Andreotti,” Riina said, strolling around the yard and chuckling to himself.

“But I met him with my bodyguard,” he told Alberto Lorusso, a convicted mafia boss from Puglia’s Sacra Corona Unita (United Sacred Crown) mafia.

The conversation was captured by a prison camera set up by Italy’s anti-mafia directorate (Dia), on the order of prosecutors in the Sicilian capital Palermo, La Repubblica reported.

The recording has been submitted as evidence to the Palermo court, where a high-profile trial on mafia-state relations got underway last May.

Andreotti died the same month the trial started, but was not a defendant and had previously been acquitted of an alleged 1987 meeting with Riina. Prosecutors did, however, conclude that the former prime minister had met with mafia boss Stefano Bontate in 1979 and 1980, but he could not be prosecuted due to the length of time that had elapsed.

The current trial centres on a deal allegedly struck between the government and mobsters in order to put an end to a spate of mafia-led violence in Sicily. The series of murders peaked with the 1992 bomb attack which killed prosecutor Paolo Borsellino, just weeks after judge Giovanni Falcone was also assassinated with a car bomb.

Riina, known as “the Beast” for his murderous nature, was arrested in January 1993 and jailed for life the same year. He came to prominence again earlier this year when he was recorded telling Lorusso he wanted Palermo’s anti-mafia prosecutors dead.

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“We must take action...this trial, and the magistrate of this trial, are driving me crazy,” he said, in a threat thought to have been aimed principally at Parlermo prosecutor Nino Di Matteo. Di Matteo was given extra security because of the threat. The trial is currently underway in the city’s high-security bunker courtroom.

READ MORE: Sicilian mafia boss orders judges' murder

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