Rome

Prosecutors say okay to lighten conditions for Mafia kingpin

Justice minister to have final word on fate of Provenzano

Prosecutors say okay to lighten conditions for Mafia kingpin

Rome, July 26 - Italy's Justice minister will have the final word on the fate Bernardo Provenzano after prosecutors on Friday approved lifting the strict prison conditions over the ageing Mafia boss. Prosecutors from Palermo, Caltanissetta and Florence agreed to withdraw the so-called 41-bis treatment for Italy's most dangerous criminals imposed on Provenzano after his conviction in the assassinations of anti-mafia prosecutors. Their opinion will now go to the Justice minister for final decision. His doctors say the health of Provenzano, who has been in a prison hospital since the beginning of June, has taken a turn for the worse. According to medical reports, the former Maria boss is "alert only when stimulated...has limited speech and altered states of consciousness". Arrested in 2006 after 43 years on the run, Provenzano's jailing under the 41-bis treatment meant he could be kept in single-person cells in maximum-security jails, almost entirely cut off from the outside world in order to prevent further criminal activity. The ex-Mafia chieftain, once nicknamed "The Bulldozer", is serving life for various murders including ordering fatal bomb attacks on anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino in 1992.

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di Sebastiano Caspanello