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Last Updated: Friday, 14 November, 2003, 14:04 GMT
Italy police arrest Mafia suspect
Giovanni Bonomo
Giovanni Bonomo is wanted in connection with two murders
Italian police say they have arrested a senior Mafia suspect after he was expelled from Senegal.

Giovanni Bonomo, 68, was detained as he arrived in Rome after an operation by Interpol and Italy's secret service.

Mr Bonomo, one of Italy's most wanted fugitives, was sought for murder and associating with the Mafia and had been on the run for seven years.

Police say he has been involved in money laundering activities for the Mafia in Namibia and South Africa.

Mr Bonomo is wanted in connection with two murders and is also charged with drug trafficking and money laundering.

Decisive role

Head of police Central Operation Services, Lucio Carluccio, said Mr Bonomo was "certainly a leading member of Cosa Nostra" - the Italian name for the Sicilian Mafia.

"We believe he has aided and abetted, when he was still in Sicily, the activities of [Mafia leaders] Leoluca Bagarella and Giovanni Brusca," he told Italian Rai Radio 1.

We seized the moment when he was moving from the Ivory Coast to Senegal - where we found him, with fake documents naturally
Lucio Carluccio
Central Operation Services
"He has been at large since 1996 and since then, the Central Operations Services has been carrying out the inquiries which have eventually allowed us to find him."

Police say co-operation from the authorities in Senegal had been decisive in making the arrest.

"We seized the moment when he was moving from the Ivory Coast to Senegal - where we found him, with fake documents naturally," said Mr Carluccio.

"He was expelled from Senegal to Italy and our personnel escorted him to Italy and formally arrested upon arrival in Rome."

Police said Mr Bonomo had been living in Namibia and in South Africa, where he had been in close contact with another of Italy's most wanted mafia criminals, Vito Palazzolo, who has spent long periods in South Africa and who remains at large.

Mr Bonomo and Mr Palazzolo were henchmen of another notorious mafia criminal called Giovanni Brusca, who was captured in Sicily in 1996 and is now serving a long-term prison sentence for murder and mafia conspiracy.

The BBC's David Willey, in Rome said Mafia criminals sentenced to long prison terms in Italy are now subject to especially harsh prison regimes.

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09 Jun 03  |  Europe

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