Ive lived in Sicily for 20 years. Perhaps I have been unconsciously affected by the Sicilian lack of faith in all state systems, so the arrest of Matteo Massimo Denaro yesterday doesnt make me feel that the state has triumphed.
It’s true that Meloni has had a tough couple of weeks as despite her promises to the contrary she has reinstated the tax on petrol and we are back at 2 euros plus a litre, and it’s true that catching the super mafioso Denaro is a feather in the government’s cap. So much so that Meloni wants to have 16 January as a national day of celebration. It gives the government a week of other news to distract us from the fact that Meloni’s government has already run out of ideas. The only thing left in her agenda to do is switch to a Presidential system alla la France.
But, it’s worth just looking a bit more deeply at the facts. At 9 am yesterday morning 100 Carabinieri and assorted press and TV stations converged on a private clinic in Palermo. They went in to arrest Denaro, who ‘tried to escape’ by walking to a bar within the building. Denaro, who was going under the name of Bonafede – Mr Good Faith – was at the clinic to have chemotherapy for a liver tumour, and he has been going intermittently over the last year.
All well and good, but looking at how the mafia has organised the capture of other ‘super latitanti’ does make you wonder if it isnt all a put up job.
Denaro has cancer, he probably needs an operation or a liver transplant – all of which mean DNA testing. Very few private hospitals exist to allow a liver transplant, which means going into the state system. Perhaps the cancer is so far gone that its a matter of making the patient comfortable and proceeding to end of life care. So its fair to assume that Denaro, being a god fearing multiple assassin may have thought that it was time to throw in the towel. If he has cancer, he won’t go to prison, he will go on a list for a transplant or operation. He will then probably be allowed to live out his final years at home under house arrest or stay in hospital. So not a bad outcome for Denaro. By letting the carabinieri know where he was, he gives the state some good publicity and assures himself the healthcare he needs.
Of course I may well be wrong, and we will now witness a scrambling for power within the mafia to become the new capo dei capi – if Denaro hasnt already sorted all this out and ensured a smooth transition of power. The amount of bodies on the streets of Trapani will be a clue as to how successful he has been, and if it was all planned.