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Last Updated: Monday, 5 November 2007, 15:18 GMT
Italy arrests 'senior Mafia boss'
Salvatore Lo Piccolo at Palermo's central police station, 05-11
Salvatore Lo Piccolo was arrested near Palermo
Italian police have arrested the reputed new boss of the Sicilian Mafia.

Salvatore Lo Piccolo, who had been at large for 20 years, was apprehended along with his son and two other men near the Sicilian capital, Palermo.

All four men were among Italy's top 30 most wanted Mafia suspects, police officials said.

Mr Lo Piccolo, 65, is believed to have succeeded the Cosa Nostra Mafia's "boss of bosses", Bernardo Provenzano, after he was arrested last year.

Officials say those arrested were Mafia chiefs who exercise immense power over the territory they control.

This is an important arrest and an important day
Leoluca Orlando,
ex-mayor of Palermo

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi hailed the arrests as "a success for the state... and all honest citizens."

The head of the Italian parliament's anti-Mafia committee, Francesco Forgione, alleged that the Lo Piccolos were linked to US crime syndicates.

"The Lo Piccolos were two bosses involved in restructuring the Mafia after the arrest of Provenzano and are go-betweens with the American Mafia," AFP news agency quoted Mr Forgione as saying.

Leoluca Orlando, the former mayor of Palermo and a Mafia expert who tried to tackle the problem when in office, told the BBC News website: "This is an important arrest and an important day.

"Since the arrest of Bernardo Provenzano, the boss of bosses of the so-called Corleonesi Mafia, Salvatore Lo Piccolo was considered the new boss."


Mr Provenzano, who led the Cosa Nostra from the early 1990s, was arrested in April 2006 after being on the run for more than 40 years.

Bernardo Provenzano
Bernardo Provenzano is held in a high security jail

He is being held in isolation at a high security jail in Terni, central Italy.

Mr Lo Piccolo allegedly began as a bodyguard for a Sicilian gangster and worked his way up through the organisation.

After Mr Provenzano's arrest, Mr Lo Piccolo was believed to be among his most likely successors, along with Antonino Rotolo and Matteo Messina Denaro.

Mr Rotolo was arrested in June 2006. Mr Denaro remains at large.

Mr Piccolo's arrest came on the day that Palermo held a day of memory for all victims of the Mafia.

The men were found in a house near Palermo

Mafia men get 300 years in jail
16 Nov 06 |  Europe
Profile: Bernardo Provenzano
11 Apr 06 |  Europe

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