Rome — Gangster "Boss of bosses" Toto Riina, who has died at the age of 87 according to Italian media reports, was one of the most violent and feared Godfathers in the history of the Sicilian Mafia. Salvatore "Toto" Riina, nicknamed "The Beast" because of his cruelty, lead a reign of terror for almost 20 years after taking control of the island’s powerful organised crime group Cosa Nostra in the 1970s. He had been serving 26 life sentences since 1993. He is thought to have ordered over 150 murders. The most high-profile were the assassinations in 1992 of antimafia judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, who had worked fearlessly to bring more than 300 mobsters to trial in 1987. Riina, who was also dubbed "U Curtu" ("Shorty") due to his 5-foot-2-inch (1.58) height, for years denied all links to the crime group — nicknamed "the octopus" for its tentacled reach into all areas of society. In 2009 he broke the Mafia code of "omerta" — a vow of silence — and surprised those who thou...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, Morningstar financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00.