Notorious Mafia ‘boss of bosses’ Toto Riina dead at 87

Mafia “boss of bosses” Salvatore “Toto” Riina, center, enters into a bunker-courtroom in this 1996 photo, escorted by the Italian paramiliary police, in Bologna, Italy. (AP)
Updated 17 November 2017
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Notorious Mafia ‘boss of bosses’ Toto Riina dead at 87

MILAN: Mafia ‘boss of bosses’ Salvatore ‘Toto’ Riina has died in the hospital while serving multiple life sentences as the mastermind of a bloody strategy to assassinate Italian prosecutors and law enforcement trying to bring down the Cosa Nostra, Italian media reported Friday. He was 87.
Riina died hours after the Justice Minister had allowed his family members bedside visits Thursday, which was his birthday, after he had been placed in a medically induced coma. Italian media said his health had deteriorated following two recent surgeries.
Riina, one of Sicily’s most notorious Mafia bosses, was serving 26 life sentences for murder convictions as a powerful Cosa Nostra boss. He was captured in Palermo, Sicily’s capital, in 1993 and imprisoned under a law that requires strict security for top mobsters, including being detained in isolated sections of prisons with limited time outside their cells.
Prosecutors accused Riina of masterminding a strategy, carried out over several years, to assassinate Italian prosecutors, police officials and others who were going after Cosa Nostra when he allegedly held the helm as the so-called “boss of bosses.”
The bloodbath campaign ultimately backfired on Cosa Nostra.
After bombs killed Italy’s two leading anti-Mafia magistrates, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, two months apart in 1992, the state stepped up its crackdown on Sicily’s Mafiosi.
Riina was captured in a Palermo apartment six months after Borsellino and his police escorts were killed by a car bomb. A native of Corleone, a Sicilian hill and Mafia stronghold, he steadfastly refused to collaborate with law enforcement after his capture.
Riina was incarcerated at a Milan prison before his hospitalization. In July, a court denied a request by Riina’s family to transfer the convicted mobster to house arrest because of his ailing health.


Hollywood star Will Smith brings down curtain on Russia World Cup

Updated 15 July 2018
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Hollywood star Will Smith brings down curtain on Russia World Cup

  • Smith performed at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium

MOSCOW: Hollywood actor and singer Will Smith performed the soccer World Cup’s official song “Live It Up” in the tournament’s closing ceremony in Moscow on Sunday.
As Smith performed at Moscow’s Luzhniki stadium, giant screens laid out on the pitch showed images of soccer players and the colors of the Croatian and French flags — the two teams who face each other in the final.
Smith was joined on stage by Nicky Jam, a US-born singer with Puerto Rican roots, and by Era Istrefi, a pop singer who describes herself as Albanian Kosovar. Both artists had featured with Smith on the “Live It Up” single.
In the final sequence of the ceremony, Russian opera singer Aida Garifullina performed Russian folk song “Kalinka” accompanied by bagpipes, a children’s choir, and a percussion section.
That section featured a guest performer: Brazilian soccer star and past World Cup winner Ronaldinho, who for a few bars of the song hammered out the rhythm on an African drum.
The performances were a prelude to France and Croatia’s players taking to the pitch to begin their final match, in front of a packed crowd at the 80,000-seat stadium.