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The man at the center of Italy’s most heartbreaking recent events – Matteo Messina Denaro – has been on the run from law enforcement since June, 1993. He’s considered to have been the mastermind behind the massacres of judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino in 1992, and behind deadly bombings in Rome, Florence and Milan in the spring of 1993. With hundreds of people and millions of euro being spent to catch him, Matteo Messina Denaro is the most important and elusive Mafia fugitive, the last Cosa Nostra boss still at large.

Many of the MHz Choice Italian titles deal with the shadow cast by Denaro. Giovanni Falcone and Borsellino: The 57 Days show the steely resolve on the part of the Sicilian justice system to undo the Mafia’s grip on the island’s people and its economy. The Anti-Mafia Squad depicts the undercover work and wiretapping employed by special squads to try to infiltrate the mob. In the docu-drama The Last Godfather, Bernardo Provenzano (Michele Placido) speaks prophetically of the Mafia’s need to reinvent itself by enlisting the help of middle-class businessmen and politicians. That is exactly what Matteo Messina Denaro pulled off in real life and may be the reason why he is still uncaptured today.

The 2014 documentary Matteo Messina Denaro methodically examines Denaro’s role in building the successful modern-day Mafia, and the lengths to which friends and family have gone in keeping him free. It recounts the rash of massacres that began in 1992, followed by an eerie time of quiet. It presents candid interviews with key players: judges, prosecutors and businessmen, all directly involved in the chase for Messina or who felt his impact. It raises questions that anyone reading the newspaper in Italy over the last 30 years has asked: were the massacres direct reprisals for the mass roundups of Mafiosi and businessmen brought about by Falcone and his colleagues? Did the bombings stop because a deal was struck behind the scenes to keep kingpins from serving time in the harsher prisons?

26 years after her friend was killed at the age of 22 in the bombing in Florence, Giovanna Maggiani Chelli still hasn’t lost her sense of indignation at the state’s inability to haul Denaro in and close the case.


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