Capture of Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro raises questions over how he stayed free for so long

The arrest of Cosa Nostra mob boss Matteo Messina Denaro at a private health clinic in Palermo on Monday stunned many around the world due to the extraordinary length of time

he’d been on the run – but came as little surprise for some who watched the Mafia more closely. Whispers of his failing health had been circulating in Sicily for months,

with hints of a “deal” to bring him back to the surface to get better cancer care. When officers asked him his name, he chose not to use his alias, Andrea Bonafede, Palermo

prosecutor Maurizio de Lucia told reporters. “I am Matteo Messina Denaro,” he said instead – likely the first time he had uttered those words in public in the 30 years he

was on the run. Messina Denaro, who is being held in a maximum-security prison in L’Aquila in central Italy, did not appear via video link for a trial hearing Thursday –

over the 1992 killings of anti-Mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino – leaving his lawyer to attend on his behalf. Messina Denaro, nicknamed “Diabolik,”

went into hiding in 1993, just a year after Falcone and Borsellino died in twin bombings. He was given life sentences in absentia in May 2002 for his involvement in their deaths

but, following his arrest, the case will now be heard in higher courts. That year he was also convicted of the murder of 12-year-old Giuseppe Di Matteo, the son of a

turncoat, and the murder of Antonella Bonanno, the pregnant partner of a rival boss. Both of those cases will also be brought before higher courts now that he has been

captured.