Sicilian mafia 'Beast' Salvatore Riina dies at 87

By Sara Shayanian  |  Nov. 17, 2017 at 11:37 AM
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Nov. 17 (UPI) -- The imprisoned former leader of the Cosa Nostra mafia in Sicily died Friday in a hospital for prisoners. He was 87.

Salvatore "Toto" Riina was suspected of ordering more than 150 killings over the course of his reign in organized crime, and was serving 26 life sentences for various crimes.

Diagnosed with cancer, Riina had been placed in a medically induced coma. He died early Friday at a hospital in Parma. He died one day after his 87th birthday.

Riina was born in Corleone in 1930 and killed his first victim when he was 19 in order to join a mafia group. He was nicknamed "The Beast" when he was in charge of the Cosa Nostra syndicate, and became one of Sicily's most notorious mob bosses.

The boss infamously ordered the killing of a 13-year-old boy in an attempt to keep the boy's father from disclosing mafia secrets. When the father became a state witness against the mob, Riina ordered the deaths of 11 of his relatives.

Riina was captured in 1993 and accused of masterminding a scheme to kill Italian prosecutors.

In July, Riina was quoted by authorities saying he "regrets nothing."

"They'll never break me, even if they give me 3,000 years," he said.

After his death Friday, Riina was given a tribute by his son, Salvo, who is also in prison.

"For me, you are not only Toto Riina, you are my father," he wrote Friday. "On this day, for me sad but important, I wish you a good birthday dad. I love you."

A public funeral was ruled out for the former crime boss.

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