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26 January, 2005 - Published 14:48 GMT
Anti-mafia raids net 46 suspects
Italian police arrested forty-six suspects in a major anti-mafia operation in Sicily. However they again failed to capture the now legendary head of the Sicilian mafia, Bernardo Provenzano. This report from David Willey:
The police swoop had been carefully prepared. About a thousand officers carried out the arrests at dawn in various parts of the Mediterranean island. The forty-six suspects detained face charges of murder, extortion and illegal possession of firearms. But the kingpin of organised crime in Sicily, Bernardo Provenzano, again slipped away.
Provenzano was once nicknamed 'the tractor' because of the way he mowed down his enemies. He remains one of the most elusive and secretive criminals ever hunted in Italy. Now in his early seventies, he's been a fugitive from justice for more than half his life but he managed to set up a system of personal protection which so far has never been successfully penetrated by police.
The authorities are claiming that the Mafia boss is cornered and that they've successfully destroyed his logistical and communications network. Provenzano has always communicated his orders in short, written notes in code. The only photograph the police have of him was taken thirty years ago and they're uncertain exactly what he looks like today.
Italy's chief anti-mafia prosecutor, Pierluigi Vigna, said the hope was now that by removing the waters in which he swims, the fish, whose face is unknown, will emerge.
David Willey, BBC News, Rome
a fugitive from justice