In internal wars in the Sicilian mafia about 1,000 people were murdered between 1981 and 1983. Riina was born Nov. 16, 1930, to a peasant family in the small town of Corleone south of the island capital Palermo. This birthplace was later introduced to the world in Mario Puzo’s 1969 novel “The Godfather” featuring fictional mob boss Don Corleone, played by Marlon Brando on screen. After serving jail sentences for crimes including murder, Riina went on the run in 1969. Riina succeeded Luciano Leggio as foremost boss of the Corleonesi faction of the criminal organization in the early 1980s and achieved dominance by a campaign of violence.
After a Palermo court imposed heavy sentences on more than 400 mobsters in 1987, including Riina who was convicted in absentia to life imprisonment, the godfather ordered a vendetta against that verdict’s chief architect, prosecutor Falcone. Riina and his wife, Antonietta Bagarella, had four children: Maria Concetta Riina, Giovanni Riina, Giuseppe Riina and Lucia Riina. Riina has been held on the stringent Article 41-bis prison regime, one of several measures that resulted from his defiant strategy.