Italian police have arrested Sicilian mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro following a decades-long hunt, a year-and-a-half after a Formula 1 fan who bore a resemblance to the criminal was arrested in a case of mistaken identity.
Denaro had been on the run since 1993, when he became one of Italy’s most-wanted men following a spree of bombings which killed 10 people and injured close to 100 more, which his Cosa Nostra mafia group was said to be responsible for.
Reports state Denaro committed other serious crimes personally and, in his position as a mafia ‘godfather’, was involved in the Cosa Nostra’s money and power-motivated organised crime activities over the years such as drug dealing.
Ahead of the 2021 Dutch Grand Prix, an F1 fan from Liverpool who was travelling to Zandvoort to watch the race was arrested in The Hague while dining in a restaurant. The innocent fan was blindfolded and taken away to a high-security Dutch prison by police who had mistaken him for the internationally-wanted crime lord Denaro. Europol, a Europe-wide law enforcement agency known for tracking down international criminals, is based in The Hague.
An accelerated investigation of the fan’s alibi and his identity concluded he was in fact an F1 enthusiast from Liverpool and not part of an organised crime network, and he was released by the Dutch police. The real Denaro was finally arrested yesterday.
Image: Police handout
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