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Sunday, July 19, 1998 Published at 00:34 GMT 01:34 UK

World: Europe

Mafiosi jailed for life

Many mafia killers are behind bars

A court in Sicily has sentenced 29 members of the Italian Mafia to life imprisonment for their roles in 10 murders between 1980 and 1990.

One of those sentenced was Nitto Santapaola, once the undisputed mafia boss in Catania, the main city on Sicily's east coast.

[ image: Nitto Santapaola: life sentence]
Nitto Santapaola: life sentence
He was convicted of ordering the killings of investigative journalist Giuseppe Fava and police inspector Giovanni Lizzo.

The other accused were affiliated either to his clan or to that of Toto Riina, the former supreme boss of the Sicilian Mafia, who has been in jail since 1993.

Among those sent to prison by the court in Catania was a policeman who worked for the Mafia.

A further 21 defendants were acquitted, including Santapaolo's brothers Francesco and Vincenzo.

[ image: Salvatore Riina: former
Salvatore Riina: former "boss of bosses"
The journalist's killer, Maurizio Avola, who collaborated with police and turned in numerous other mafia men, was tried previously and sentenced to six years and six months.

The latest convictions bring to 47 the life sentences handed down to Mafiosi in the past few days.

On Wednesday a court sentenced 18 bosses to life in prison for their part in the killing of Euro parliamentarian Salvatore Lima, who was shot dead near Palermo in 1992.

The 18 included a number of bosses already in jail, among them Riina and his deputy Pietro Aglieri.

In a separate case on Saturday, Catania's appeals court upheld sentences totalling 540 years for 77 criminals convicted of Mafia association, extortion and drug trafficking.

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