||Catania| Benedetto Santapaola
Born: June 4, 1938 - Catania
Benedetto "Il Cacciatore" Santapaola was the boss of the Catania Mafia. He was arrested on May 18, 1993 and was sentenced to life. He was concidered one of the most important Mafioso bosses in Sicily.
Benedetto Santapaola was born in a poor familie with his brothers and cousins in Catania. He was introduced in the largest mafia familie in Catania, thanks to his cousin. The familie then was under control of Giuseppe Calderone. Santapaola’s first denunciation was in 1962 for theft and criminal conspiracy. In 1970 he was sent into internal exile and in 1975 he was denounced for cigarette smuggling.
He became an ally of the Corleonesi and Salvatore "Toto" Riina while he was building a private faction within the family. By then Santapaola was the underboss of Calderone. When Riina was a fugitive he frequently stayed with Santapaola in Catania and together they often went hunting in the local mountains. (Hunting was the favourite sport of Santapaola). Riina decided to support Santapaola in order to replace Calderone, who was killed in September 30, 1978.
Santapaola’s command over the Catania Mafia was not unchallenged. He had to fight a war against another independent group that was not part of the Mafia in Catania, known as Cursoti, which waged war in order to control gambling and cigarettes smuggling. He was also involved in a bitter feud with the faction of Alfio Ferlito, who had been a close friend of Giuseppe Calderone. The war involved gun battles in the streets and dozens of murders. In June 6, 1981 Santapaola was seriously wounded by Ferlito and his men when he was ambushed. When Ferlito was arrested, Santapaola planned his revenge. When Ferlito was escorted by 3 policemen from Enna to Trapani prison, he was ambushed. A bomb exploded killing not only Ferlito, but also the 3 officers. The killers were linked to the Corleonesi.
After Dalla Chiesa’s (life: 1920 - 1981. He was a general who was killed in order of Santapaola.) murder, investigating magistrate Giovanni Falcone found a note that indicated that Dalla Chiesa had discovered that Santapaola was on the payroll of Costanzo. Falcone encouraged Elio Pizzuti of the Treasury Police (Guardia di Finanza) to look into their financial records. Pizzuti found ample evidence of corruption and political influence peddling by the four Knights that tied together the local Mafia, high finance and political figures Santapaola has been convicted for the murder of the journalist Giuseppe Fava (1925 - 1984) on January 5, 1984. Fava, founder and editor in chief of the magazine I Siciliani, exposed the links between the Catania Mafia and the world of business and politics. In the first edition of I Siciliani Fava published an article I quattro cavalieri dell'apocalisse mafiosa (The four horsemen of the Mafia apocalypse), denouncing the links of the entrepreneurs with the Mafia. In 1994, Maurizio Avola, a nephew of Santapaola, confessed the killing of Fava, and became a pentito. He also confessed some 70 other murders. Avola said that his uncle Nitto Santapaola had ordered the killing of the journalist.
On May 18, 1993, the fugitive Nitto Santapaola was arrested in a farmhouse hideout outside Catania after being on the run for 11 years. His wife, Carmela Minniti, was killed on September 1, 1995, by killers posing as policemen. They called at her house, pushed past her daughter and shot her dead. "She ran his affairs," said Liliana Madeo, author of a book on the Mafia's new women. "If she was just a little woman, she wouldn't have been killed." Santapaola’s rival Giuseppe Ferone (who had become a pentito) was one of the killers. Nitto Santapaola forgave his wife's killer in a letter he publicly red in court. Ferone’s son and father had been killed on the orders of Santapaola. In 1998, Santapaola and Aldo Ercolano were convicted for ordering the killing of Giuseppe Fava. In 2001 the Court of Appeal in Catania confirmed the life sentences. He also received life sentences for the murder of Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.
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