Totò Riina

Salvatore Riina known as the boss of the bosses behind the bars Photograph: Repubblica
Salvatore Riina known as the boss of the bosses behind bars Photograph: Repubblica

Salvatore Riina, also known as Totò Riina became the most powerful member of the criminal organisation in the early 1980s.

He was nicknamed  The Beast due to his violent nature, or sometimes The Short One due to his diminutive height

During his life-long career in crime he is believed to have personally killed around forty people and to have ordered the deaths of upwards of hundreds more.

During the 1980s and early 1990s, Riina and his Mafia faction, the Corleonesi, waged a ruthless campaign of violence against both rival mobsters and the state which culminated in the assassination of two judges Falcone and Borsellino. .

Thanks to his habits of secrecy and evasiveness, Riina’s personality remains enigmatic. An informant, Antonino Calderone described Riina as being “unbelievably ignorant, but he had an intuition and intelligence and was difficult to fathom … very hard to predict”.

He said Riina was soft spoken and a dedicated father and husband. Riina was highly persuasive and often highly sentimental. He followed the simple codes of the brutal, ancient world of the Sicilian countryside, where force is the only law and there is no contradiction between personal kindness and extreme ferocity. “His philosophy was that if someone’s finger hurt, it was better to cut off his whole arm just to make sure,” Calderone said.



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