Changing face of new godfather

ITALY'S most wanted man, who has eluded police for 15 years, has become the godfather of godfathers in the Sicilian Mafia, according to the authorities.

The playboy crime boss Matteo Messina Denaro, 45 next week, took over the reins of power after the arrest of Bernardo Provenazano last April.

Denaro is a ruthless killer who couples a considerable capacity for violence with a love of luxury. He drives a Porsche and wears the latest Rolex Daytona watch, Rayban sunglasses and designer labels.

His devotion to the designer labels Versace and Dolce & Gabbana reportedly earned him a ticking off from superiors in the early 1990s when he spent too much time shopping instead of gathering information while on a "reconnaissance mission".

Denaro, who is said to have killed more than 20 people, was in Rome to check out two targets, but instead concentrated on the boutiques of Rome's city centre and the hit was called off. His first victim was a Sicilian hotel owner, who berated him for taking young girls to bed in his hotel.

Denaro once boasted of how he "filled a cemetery" and his cold-blooded reputation was ensured when he murdered Vincenzo Milazzo, a rival crime boss, and strangled his girlfriend, who was three months pregnant. Denaro once defended his life of crime by saying: "I am fighting for something which cannot be understood. However, one day people, it will be understood that I was on the part of reason."

Police in Palermo, Sicily, have issued a new photofit after working on a 20-year-old mug-shot they have of Denaro from his driving licence. They believe that it is as close an image as possible and have used state-of-the-art equipment to "age" the only photos they have.

Police have taken facial measurements from members of Denaro's family and also used computer software to calculate key facial points, such as the distance between nose and mouth, between the eyes and the distance between the eyes, cheekbones and mouth.

A new sequence of pictures have been issued of him, showing him both with his trademark sunglasses and without.

Detectives believe that Denaro is hiding out close to his family home at Castelvetrano, near Trapani, and is moving between safe houses. In the famous pizzini (letters) discovered in Provenzano's hideaway last year, both men praise each other's ability as Mafia Dons.

Provenzano, now 74, had been on the run for more than 40 years before he was eventually caught in a remote farmhouse just a few miles from his family home.

Denaro is also suspected of being behind the 1993 Mafia bombing campaign on "civilian" targets, which left ten people dead and more than 90 injured. In May 2002, Denaro was sentenced to life in absentia for his part in the attacks.

A Palermo police spokesman said: "We believe this photofit to be a close resemblance to what Denaro looks like now.

"Officers from the scientific unit have spent several months working on it and have used sophisticated techniques to build up the image.

"Denaro is an arrogant man and that's why he has a slight smile in the photofit and we know he has a liking for designer clothes that's why he has an open-neck silk shirt.

"If anyone has information as to his whereabouts, we would be very glad to hear from them."

However, despite the guarantees of police protection not many calls are expected.

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