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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 October, 2003, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
Italian police seize 'Mafia boss'
Salvatore Sciarabba under arrest
Mr Sciarabba is said to have helped conceal the "boss of bosses"
Police in Italy have arrested an alleged Mafia boss said to be a top aide of Sicily's fugitive "boss of bosses", Bernardo Provenzano.

Salvatore Sciarabba, 53, was arrested on charges of Mafia association at his flat in central Palermo, only a short distance from the city's courthouse.

Police also found three handguns and about 20,000 euros in cash in his flat.

Mr Sciarabba had been on the run for six years, in which time he allegedly rose to the top of the Sicilian Mafia.

He is thought to have recently been in charge of helping Mr Provenzano in hiding, Italian media report, quoting investigators.

Bernardo Provenzano has been on the run for at least 30 years, allegedly succeeding the previous "boss of bosses", Salvatore Riina, after his arrest in 1993.

When Mr Provenzano's alleged right-hand man, Benedetto Spera, was arrested in 2001, Mr Sciarabba is said to have climbed to the highest ranks of the Sicilian Mafia.

As well as the guns and cash, police reported finding three knives and mobile phones, walkie-talkies, phone cards and documents in his flat.

Reports say his two-room flat is in a working-class neighbourhood of Palermo.

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