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Mafia boss captured while watching TV

ROME, May 21 -- Giovanni Brusca, Italy's most-wanted Mafia boss, was behind bars Tuesday under tight security in Palermo after his capture in a rented seaside villa in Sicily while watching television with his family. Brusca, 36, whose arrest was revealed late Monday at a banquet and concert honoring Italian police in Rome, is suspected of being the mastermind and trigger man of a massive highway bomb blast in May 1992 that killed the country's top anti-Mafia magistrate. Giovanni Falcone, his wife and their three heavily armed bodyguards died on May 23, 1992, in an attack at Capaci near Palermo as their motorcade sped down the highway between the airport and the Sicilian capital. A huge charge of explosives planted under the pavement was detonated as the magistrate's car passed by. Police said Brusca and his brother, Vicenzo, who was also sought, were picked up after several weeks of surveillance of the villa where they were staying near the resort of Agrigento, famed for its Greek ruins. They were said to be watching a made-for-television movie about the assassination of Falcone. Police said they had been watching the house for several weeks, but waited until both brothers were inside together before making their move with a force of 200 men. Authorities said since the capture in January 1993 of Salvatore 'Toto' Rina, the top godfather in the Mafia hierarchy, Brusca had slowly moved into the leading underworld position. He is also believed to have committed one of the most savage crimes in Mafia history, strangling the 11-year-old son of a gangland turncoat with his bare hands and dropping the body into a vat of acid after holding the boy hostage for 18 months.

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'He was the bloodiest,' said Italian police head Rino Moncao. 'He's the one who pushed the button during the slaughter of Capaci.' Officials said when police moved in Brusca and his brother put up no resistance. Also with them were their wives and three of their children. The capture, said to have been aided by confessions of a Mafia informer, came three days shy of the fourth anniversary of Falcone's murder.

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