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‘Mafia Boss’ Captured; Links Sought in Priest Slaying, Bombings With AM-Italy-Bombings

October 1, 1993

PALERMO, Sicily (AP) _ Authorities questioned a reputed Mafia boss Thursday about the slaying of a priest who openly battled the Sicilian underworld.

Police also said they will examine any links between Benedetto Graviano’s alleged Mafia family and bombings earlier this year in Rome, Milan and Florence that killed a total of 10 people.

Graviano, who had been on the run from police since 1990, was captured Wednesday in a villa about 12 miles northwest of Palermo in one of the major strikes in the government’s anti-Mafia campaign.

Palermo prosecutor Giancarlo Caselli said authorities are ″working under the hypothesis″ that Graviano was involved in the Sept. 15 shooting death of the Rev. Guiseppe Puglisi, who had urged parish priests to speak out against the Mafia.

Puglisi was shot in the neck on the doorstep of his house in a Palermo neighborhood reputedly controlled by Graviano’s Mafia group.

Thousands of people attended Puglisi’s funeral, and Italy’s interior minister called the killing ″a cowardly Mafia action.″

In Rome, Premier Carlo Ciampi told a gathering of The Associated Press board of directors Thursday that he believed the Mafia was responsible for the five blasts earlier this year. He said the government had not hard evidence.

The car bomb in Florence in May killed five people and caused heavy damage to the renowned Uffizi art gallery. In July, three bombs on the same night killed five people in Milan and damaged two churches in Rome. Another May bombing in Rome injured dozens of people.

Graviano, 35, fled after a 1990 conviction on drug and organized crime charges.