Facebook has apologized to the family of the Italian Mafia’s ‘boss of bosses’ for removing messages of condolences that flowed in after his death last week.
Salvatore ‘Toto’ Riina, one of the most feared godfathers in the history of the Sicilian Mafia, was buried Wednesday in his hometown of Corleone.
Riina, had been serving 26 life sentences when he succumbed to cancer aged 87 last week, and is thought to have ordered more than 150 murders.
The Facebook profiles of Riina’s daughter and her husband were inundated with condolences – such as ‘Buon viaggio zio Totò’ or ‘Have a good journey Uncle Toto’ – as well as denunciations for his crimes.
Salvatore ‘Toto’ Riina, (pictured here behind bars during a trial in Rome on April 29, 1993 – one of the most feared godfathers in the history of the Sicilian Mafia), was buried Wednesday in his hometown of Corleone
A Facebook spokesperson said these posts of condolences on the feed of Riina’s son-in-law were removed in error.
Additionally, Riina’s daughter, Maria Concetta Riina, posted a photo of a woman kissing her finger with the words ‘shh…’ written on it.
She then blasted Facebook writing: ‘The background picture of my fb profile does not want to be a mobster message where the silence, but the request to respect this personal moment of pain!’
Riina’s daughter, Maria Concetta Riina (left), posted a photo of a woman kissing her finger with the words ‘shh…’ written on it. She blasted Facebook writing: ‘The background picture of my fb profile does not want to be a mobster message where the silence, but the request to respect this personal moment of pain!’
Her husband Antonino Tony Ciavarello posted an article on Facebook in Italian that roughly translates as ‘Facebook apologizes to the family of the boss for removing messages of condolence from social media platform.’
More condolence posts were written on the back of him posting the article including one friend writing: ‘Goodbye Uncle Toto, you’re going to the angels.’
Riina’s remains arrived in Sicily earlier this week following his death on November 17 in Parma.
Many people wrote messages of condolence on Antonino Tony Ciavarello, Maria Concetta Riina husband, Facebook profile (pictured above)
Also pictured here are sympathy messages for Salvatore ‘Toto’ Riina on Facebook
The family buried him in a private ceremony in Corleone, the real-life mafia hotbed made famous by the ‘Godfather’ films and book.
The private funeral – and the social media controversy – underscored the complicated mourning process for families of mafiosi.
‘Toto Riina is to be considered a manifest sinner who didn’t show the necessary public and true repentance for his crimes,’ Archbishop Michele Pennisi of Monreale, which includes Corleone, told the local La Sicilia di Catania.
While a public funeral is forbidden, a priest can lead the family in private prayer as an act of ‘Christian piety,’ he said.
A mock public funeral poster with a list bearing the names of Mafia victims, including slain anti-Mafia magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, announces the death of Toto Riina in Ercolano, near Naples, southern Italy, on November 17
Mr Riina’s remains arrived in Sicily earlier this week following his death on November 17 in Parma (a general view of Corleone pictured here)
Nicknamed ‘The Beast’ because of his cruelty, Mr Riina was was laid to rest in the family tomb, which sits near the graves of other famed mobster chiefs.
His coffin, with white flowers on top, was briefly blessed by a priest as mourners including his wife and three of his four children looked on, according to Italian media reports.
The cemetery was closed to the press amid a heavy police presence.
Riina’s son Giovanni, who is serving time in jail for four murders, was not given permission to attend.
The Church had refused to give the man dubbed ‘U Curtu’ (‘Shorty’) – who led a reign of terror for almost 20 years after taking control of the Cosa Nostra in the 1970s – a public funeral.
Giuseppe Di Matteo who was kidnapped was strangled and his body dissolved in acid in a bid to stop his father from spilling Mafia secrets
He continued to order hits from behind bars and was caught on wiretap this year saying he regretted ‘nothing’.
La Repubblica daily noted his favourite nephew Giovanni Grizzaffi, who had been named by Riina as a possible successor, was not present at the burial.
Mafia experts have warned there may be a power struggle now within the organised crime group.
Multi-murderer playboy Messina Denaro, one of the world’s most-wanted men, is seen by many as Riina’s natural heir but has been on the run since 1993.
Just a few metres from Riina’s last resting place lies Bernardo Provenzano – known as ‘the Tractor’ for the way he mowed his victims down – and volatile and vain boss Luciano Leggio, who was a young Riina’s mentor.
But nearby are also buried some of Corleone’s heroes, including Placido Rizzotto, a trade unionist brutally murdered for standing up to the Mafia, and Calogero Comaianni, who was slaughtered for his role in bringing Leggio to justice.
Corleone become synonymous with the Mafia through Francis Ford Coppola’s popular ‘Godfather’ film trilogy, in which the central characters take their family name from the hilltop village near Palermo.
Riina ordered the killings of fearless anti-Mafia judges Giovanni Falcone (left) and Paolo Borsellino
The most high-profile murders ‘The Beast’ ordered were those in 1992 of anti-mafia judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, who had worked fearlessly to bring more than 300 mobsters to trial in 1987.
His reign of terror continued from behind bars and he also famously ordered the brutal murder of a 13-year old boy Giuseppe Di Matteo who was kidnapped, strangled and his body dissolved in acid in a bid to stop his father from spilling Mafia secrets.
The boys father Santino Di Matteo made a desperate trip to Sicily to try to negotiate his son’s release but on January 11, 1996 after 779 days, the boy, who by now had also become physically ill due to mistreatment, was finally strangled.
The body was subsequently dissolved in a barrel of acid to prevent the family holding a proper funeral at which they could mourn and to destroy evidence, a practice known as the ‘lupara bianca’.