Thanks to Bonafede's allowing Messina Denaro to use his identity, the fugitive was "able to move on the territory (of Italy), eluding law enforcement, as well as to access National Health Care without revealing his real identity,'' according to the accusations in the warrant.
The fugitive had been receiving cancer treatment for months at the Palermo clinic as an out-patient registered as Andrea Bonafede, authorities said.
Messina Denaro had been convicted in absentia while he was on the lam of several of the most heinous Mafia crimes and given multiple life sentences. He was convicted of being one of the masterminds of the 1992 bombings — one of attacks killed Italy's top anti-Mafia magistrate, Giovanni Falcone, along a highway outside Palermo and the other killed a fellow magistrate, Paolo Borsellino two months later — that shocked Italy. Also killed in those bombings was Falcone's wife and the bodyguards of both magistrates.
Bonafede was arrested after nightfall in a small town just outside Campobello di Mazara, according to police video footage released by the Carabinieri.
In their searches of the three houses allegedly used by Messina Denaro, authorities said they found airline ticket receipts indicating he had traveled abroad at times, receipts from pricey restaurants, jewelry and posters from films, including “The Godfather” and “Joker.”
A few days after the Jan. 16 arrest of the fugitive, police found in a private parking lot in Campobello di Mazara a black Alfa Romeo Giulietta sedan they said Messina Denaro used to drive himself around, with Bonafede's identification documents, the arrest warrant for Bonafede said.
Investigators allege that the fugitive personally bought the car, used, at a Palermo dealership, an indication the convicted mobster felt a certain level of confidence he wouldn't be recognized in Sicily's main metropolis.
The parking spot is allegedly owned by the son of the suspect who was arrested after driving Messina Denaro to his medical appointment.
Investigators allege that Messina Denaro could count on a network of accomplices, drawn from his power base in western Sicily, to help with logistics.
Hours after his arrest, Messina Denaro was flown to a maximum security prison in central Italy to begin serving his sentences.