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Mystery of the protector

Rome: The Italian mafia Cosa Nostra's leader, who was seized last year after 43 years on the run, had a powerful and as yet unidentified protector whom he referred to as ``my Adored Jesus Christ''. Bernardo Provenzano, Capo di Tutti i Capi (boss of all bosses) since the mid-1990s, was arrested last April near the Sicilian town of Corleone. A book published on Thursday co-authored by one of the prosecutors who captured him, reveals that identifying the mystery protector has become the top priority of Italy's anti-mafia investigators. Il Codice Provenzano, whose authors include a deputy chief prosecutor of Palermo, describes the efforts made by investigators to understand the coded notes Mr Provenzano sent to his lieutenants. The authors said it was impossible to know if the mafia chief's protector was a top politician or a spy deep inside the Italian security apparatus. The decoded messages suggest ``Jesus Christ'' also wrecked a March 2002 surveillance operation that might have helped to net Mr Provenzano. The carabinieri got wind of a Cosa Nostra summit in a farmhouse and fitted a camera. At the start of the meeting, one of the bosses made a sign to be quiet, then the surveillance team lost all sound and the camera was turned to show only the feet of those present.

— © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006

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