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Dr Mark Galleotti, Keele University
"He is probably on the run near his home village"
 real 28k

Friday, 16 February, 2001, 14:45 GMT
Police close in on Mafia boss
Toto Riina
Provenzano took over the mafia after Toto Riina's arrest
Police in Sicily say they are are closing in on top Mafia boss Bernardo Provenzano, as they follow clues left in letters written by Mr Provenzano's wife.

The Sicilian Mafia's 'boss of bosses' has been on the run for almost 40 years and the only known photograph of him is 30 years old.

Benedetto Spera
Benedetto Spera: the letters were discovered during his arrest
But police were given a wealth of new clues when they discovered letters from Mrs Provenzano during the arrest of Benedetto Spera, Mr Provenzano's side-kick, two weeks ago.

Mr Provenzano is believed to have taken charge of Sicily's Mafia after the arrest of the former boss Toto Riina in 1993.

Clothing clues

Police have begun scouring the Sicilian mountains in search of Mr Provenzano after his wife wrote that she had sent him snow trousers and a fleece jacket.

She also sent him news of how her laundry business in Corleone was getting on and even gave him advice about how best to wash his socks.

There are also indications that Mr Provenzano has had several meetings with his sons - both born after he went underground.

Police say they will have to decipher some of the letters, which have been apparently written in code.

Police had believed for some time that Mr Provenzano was dead, but there have been more and more signs over recent months that he was alive and still on the run - culminating in the discovery of the stash of letters.

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06 Jan 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Mafia - past and present
24 Dec 00 | Europe
'Mob queen' found in cupboard
12 Dec 00 | Europe
Mafia comeback mars UN conference
30 Jan 01 | Europe
Sicilian mafia boss arrested
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