Messina Denaro’s driver, Luppino, sentenced to 9 years. Arrested with the boss in Palermo.

The closed-door session lasted six hours: that was enough for the judge in Palermo to decide the guilt of Giovanni Luppino, the reputable agricultural entrepreneur from Campobello di Mazara who served as the driver for Matteo Messina Denaro. Nine years and 2 months was the sentence handed down by the judge at the end of a trial held in an expedited manner, a procedure that allows for a one-third reduction in sentence. A heavy sentence despite the judge reclassifying the charge of mafia association brought by the prosecution to that of aiding and abetting and aggravated non-compliance with sentence. Giovanni Luppino, a unsuspecting olive oil trader, was arrested on January 16, 2023, alongside the godfather outside the La Maddalena clinic, the healthcare facility where the mafia boss, long suffering from cancer, underwent surgery for liver metastases and chemotherapy. In his car, two phones were found, carefully disconnected as a precaution to avoid interceptions. To the Carabinieri, Luppino claimed to have met his passenger months earlier but was ignorant of his true identity. “He asked me for a lift to Palermo this morning,” he explained. However, the prosecution never believed the suspect’s explanation. Over time, as new investigations were conducted, the businessman’s position worsened as it was discovered that there had been a total of 50 trips to the clinic, far from being an occasional encounter. The accused had also asked other businessmen for money on behalf of the mafia boss, as confirmed in court by two witnesses along with other evidence prompting the prosecutors to change the charge to mafia association. As time went on, the boss’s driver’s story evolved. The entrepreneur told the judge that it was a fellow villager, Andrea Bonafede (the surveyor who lent his identity to the mafia boss), who introduced him to Messina Denaro as his cousin in 2020, under the alias of Francesco Salsi, and only later did Luppino discover his true identity. From then on, out of “humanitarian reasons” knowing the boss was seriously ill, he continued to accompany him to therapy sessions. According to the accusation, Luppino’s crucial role in the boss’s fugitive status was also demonstrated by his decision to involve his children in assisting the fugitive. It was they who guarded the boss’s car, organized his moves from one hideout to another, and provided him with aid and support during the difficult travel for his last surgical procedure.

Condannato a 9 anni l’autista di Messina Denaro, Luppino era stato arrestato insieme al boss alla Maddalena di Palermo

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