ROME, March 9 -- A top Mafia boss personally strangled an 11- year-old boy in order to put pressure on his father to retract testimony he had given Italian judicial authorities, a Mafia informant said Saturday. Former Mafioso Giuseppe Monticciolo, arrested last month, told investigators the missing boy, Giuseppe Di Matteo, was strangled by Giovanni Brusca after being held hostage for 18 months, the Italian news agency ANSA reported Saturday.
Monticciolo, a close aide of Brusca's, said the boy's body was subsequently dissolved in acid. Giuseppe Di Matteo was kidnapped near Palermo in November 1993. His father, Santo Di Matteo, is a leading Mafia turncoat who admitted participating in the 1992 assassination of top anti-Mafia magistrate Giovanni Falcone and helped investigators by identifying his accomplices. Monticciolo said the boy had been picked up near his home by Mafiosi wearing the insignia of the elite DIA police anti-Mafia investigative unit, who told him they were taking him to visit his father. Santo Di Matteo briefly disappeared from the witness protection program to attempt to negotiate the release of his son after hearing he had disappeared, but turned himself in again to police some 36 hours later. Monticciolo said he was present when Brusca and another man strangled the boy at a remote farmhouse in the countryside west of Palermo. Monticciolo's testimony corroborated that of other Mafia turncoats, known as 'pentiti' (repentants), who had previously spoken of the boy's kidnap.