Italians fit bill for Mafia boss surgery in France

2nd March 2005, Comments 0 comments

ROME, March 1 (AFP) - Prosecutors in Sicily are investigating how Italy's most wanted man, Sicilian Mafia boss Bernardo Provenzano, travelled undetected to the south of France for prostate surgery and then claimed social security benefits, media reports said Tuesday.

ROME, March 1 (AFP) - Prosecutors in Sicily are investigating how Italy's most wanted man, Sicilian Mafia boss Bernardo Provenzano, travelled undetected to the south of France for prostate surgery and then claimed social security benefits, media reports said Tuesday.

Provenzano, who has been on the run for more than 40 of his 72 years, is believed to have had prostate surgery under an assumed name at a Marseille clinic in 2003.

The prosecutors' office in Palermo sequestered files from the regional social security offices in Italy on Monday to investigate the possibility that the costs of the trip were reimbursed by the Italian state, the reports said.

The affair came to light after police seized documents in a series of raids in January in which some 50 Mafia suspects were arrested.

Investigators believe Provenzano travelled to Marseille in July 2003 under the name of Gaspare Troia, a Sicilian baker, for a consultation with a specialist.

When police interviewed the baker, whose son Salvatore accompanied Provenzano on the trip, Troia said he had never had surgery.

La Ciotat clinic in Marseille confirmed that a patient named Gaspare Troia had indeed been treated there. It described him as "a quiet man who returned to Sicily after his operation".

The work of Italy's anti-Mafia magistrates is complicated by the absence of any current photographs of Provenzano, forcing investigators to work from a computer-generated image, based on an old photo, thought to approximate what he would look like today.

Provenzano became "the boss of all bosses" in 1993 following the arrest of Toto Riina, the mobster boss known as "The Beast", in January 1993. Riina is in jail for life.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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