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Buried alive: How is 41 Bis, the harshest prison solitary regime in Italy for the end of the worst mafia bosses

Italy Since the 1980s, it has had a strict isolation prison regime called 41 Bis and which, despite criticism from humanitarian organizations, served as an inflexible epilogue for the worst mafia bosses until his death, such as Totó Riina, and most likely now to Matteo Messina Denaro.

This system of “hard jail”, as it is colloquially known, was created in 1975 for the most serious crimes and riots within penitentiaries, but it began to be applied to gangsters after the fatal attack in 1992 on judge Giovanni Falcone in Sicily.

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In short, The objective of 41 Bis is to isolate the “capo” and prevent him from continuing to lead the mafia organization from jail.

In this way, the inmate lives in an individual cell without contact with the rest of the prisoners, without access to common areas; Only in some cases are they allowed a couple of hours outdoors, always alone, and they are subjected to continuous surveillance by police officers who cannot maintain contact with other officials.

The face of the godfather of the Sicilian mafia Matteo Messina Denaro, captured by the Italian police on January 16, 2023. (AFP). (HANDOUT/)

The prisoner may receive -only in some cases- one hourly visit per month from their relatives, separated by an armored partition, with no possibility of physical contact, In addition, all your correspondence will be controlled and you will not have access to books or magazines.

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The harshness of 41 Bis has received numerous criticisms since its implementation by activists and humanitarian organizations.

The European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Punishment has always considered it “inhuman” and some of his points have been challenged by the European Court of Human Rights. In 2003, Amnesty International called it “cruel and degrading”.

Such is his fame that in 2007 the US court denied the extradition of Italy of mobster Rosario Gambino alleging that the application of this system “is tantamount to torture”.

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In any case, the 41 Bis regime has not only been maintained over the years but also unwaveringly defended by Italian parties from all over the political spectrum, from the right to the left.

Y has served as an epilogue for the most bloodthirsty criminals of the feared Italian mafia. That is why it is expected to mark the last days alive of the “capo” Matteo Messina Denaro, arrested today in Palermo after 30 years on the run, despite being seriously ill with cancer.

This was the case, for example, with Bernardo Provenzano, head of Cosa Nostra and that he was arrested in 2006 after spending 38 years on the run.

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The mobster, nicknamed in Sicilian “U Tratturi” (the tractor, due to his physical strength), was sentenced to three life sentences for his crimes and, after his arrest in 2006, he went to the 41 Bis regime, hardened on one occasion for trying to give orders from prison.

A robot image made by the Italian police of the face of mobster Matteo Messina Denaro, captured on January 16, 2023 in Sicily.  (AFP).

A robot image made by the Italian police of the face of mobster Matteo Messina Denaro, captured on January 16, 2023 in Sicily. (AFP). (HANDOUT/)

In April 2014 he had to be admitted to the San Paolo hospital in Milan and, even so, in 2015 the Supreme Court confirmed the application of this regime. He died hospitalized in July 2016 at the age of 83 and the authorities prohibited any public funeral.

In 2018, the Strasbourg Court condemned Italy for renewing the 41 Bis a Provenzando even when it was about to die.

Something similar happened with the “capo de capo”, Salvatore “Totò” Riina, the “Belva” (Beast, for his cruelty), arrested in 1993 after 24 years in hiding for his numerous crimes, murders and attacks, which earned him a whopping 26 life sentences.

Riina spent more than two decades in isolation in various prisons around the country, all far from their native Sicily, and, on one occasion when the Government eased this restriction, it took advantage of the situation to launch various threats from the other side of the bars. That event implied a new hardening of 41Bis.

He died in 2017 after five days in a coma admitted to the detainee unit of the Mayor de Parma hospital in isolation.

Source: Elcomercio

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