A 54-year-old Liverpool man thought the big event of his trip to the Netherlands would be to attend the Formula 1 Grand Prix, but ended up being held in a high security prison for being mistaken for a mob boss.
The Dutch police thought they had made a capture worthy of the newspapers – and they did, but for other reasons. The authorities thought they had finally caught a Sicily mob boss who is one of the most wanted fugitives in the world, but in reality he was just a English Formula 1 fan.
The arrest took place in the Netherlands last week and police even pointed guns at the 54-year-old man, who was identified by his lawyer only by the name Mark L. The double was captured and blindfolded while you were eating with your son in a restaurant in the city of The Hague.
Mark L. had gone to the Netherlands to see the Formula 1 Grand Prix of 5 September, and was later released. The man also had a Liverpool accent and a Europol report from the mob boss in question states that his only language is Italian.
Leon van Kleef, a lawyer for the Englishman, says the man was “angry and incredulous” but that he also laughed at the “ridiculous situation”. “Imagine that one moment you are eating and the next you are in a high security dutch prison. He’s a normal Formula 1 fan. It would be great for an Italian to have such a heavy Liverpool accent”, he says.
The real police target was Matteo Messina Denaro, considered the godfather of the Sicily Cosa Nostra mafia and described as “the most wanted man in europe“. Denaro is associated with bombings that killed 10 people and injured 93 in 1993 and has been missing ever since.
The mobster, who will now be 59, has gained even more notoriety after appearing in the Netflix documentary series “World’s Most Wanted”, which tells the stories of the world’s most wanted fugitives, where he was referred to as diabolik, since its fame of playboy who wears branded clothes and fast cars matches the villain of the squares.
Denaro is suspected of a total of 50 homicides and, according to the Netflix documentary, has already boasted of “have killed enough people to fill a small cemetery“. He is now seen as Sicily’s biggest mob boss after the arrests of Bernardo Provenzano in 2006 and Salvatore Lo Piccolo in 2007.
In 1993, he also allegedly tried to help organize the abduction and death of a 12-year-old boy in an attempt to silence his father, who was about to help the authorities and turn over evidence against the organized crime group.