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> The 87 year old had spent nearly a quarter of a century behind bars. Serving 26 life sentences for dozens of murders committed between 1969 and 1992.
>> He had no scruples, he was a violent and power hungry leader during a very turbulent period in Italian history.>>
He began his violent career on the dusty streets of Corleone, after the Second World War. And rose to become the Cosa Nostra's boss of bosses when it reached its 20th century apex.>> He is said to have ordered the murder of 1,000 people. Now he hasn't been convicted for all of those.
But certainly, on the streets of Palermo in the early 80s, bodies were found almost every other day. And he was considered the boss who ordered this mass murder spree and, at the end of it, he was the one standing.>> It was a flourishing period for the Sicilian mafia.
Which was trafficking heroin to North America and had a firm grip on the levers of power in Rome. But due to Riina's savagery, hundreds of mobsters broke their code of silence in the 80s and 90s and testified against him. That allowed anti-mafia magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino to uncover long hidden secrets of the Cosa Nostra.
And prosecute its leaders for the crimes of its soldiers. In 1992, Falcone and Borsellino were killed in bomb attacks ordered by Riina. His arrest, after 20 years on the run, happened just months later. Attention now turning to whether or not his death will lead to a change in leadership in the Cosa Nostra.
>> He was really still considered the big boss of Cosa Nostra until his death. So now it will be worth watching what happens in Sicily, and seeing if there are new people who come along to take his place.