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Last Updated:  Friday, 7 March, 2003, 22:53 GMT
Italian police capture Mafia boss
Salvatore Rinella
Rinella is considered a major leader in the Mafia
Italian police have arrested a wanted Mafia crime boss in what they say is a major blow to the organisation.

Salvatore Rinella, 49, was arrested in an apartment in the Sicilian city of Palermo after several years on the run.

He was not armed and gave no resistance, police said.

Rinella has already been convicted and sentenced to life in prison for murder for a killing in 1979.

He is considered the right-hand man of so-called supergrass Antonino Giuffre, a top Mafia boss arrested in April last year, who began co-operating with prosecutors in June and has already supplied prosecutors with information leading to a string of arrests.

A search of the apartment where Rinella was captured uncovered documents, phone numbers and a gun, local news reports said.

'The right tip'

Palermo chief prosecutor Pietro Grasso hailed the arrest as a success, saying it had dealt the Mafia "a hatchet blow", the Associated Press news agency reported.

Palermo prosecutors added that Guiffre had provided "the right tip" to lead investigators to Rinella.

Over the past few months several people close to the reputed head of the Sicilian Mafia, Bernardo Provenzano - with whom Giuffre is believed to have run the Mafia - have been arrested.

However Provenzano himself, who has been on the run for more than 40 years, remains at large.

Giuffre recently accused Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of meeting Mafia leaders in the 1980s and 1990s.


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