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Pope's speech inspires Mafia boss to turn himself in

A fugitive Mafia boss turned himself on Friday after seeing Pope John Paul II deliver a historic speech to Italy's Parliament, the suspect's lawyer said.

Benedetto Marciante, sentenced to 30 years in prison for murder, was particularly taken by the Pope's comments on family values and surrendered to Italian authorities at Rome's Rebibbia prison, said lawyer Roberto Tricoli.

"He decided spontaneously. He called me from the prison to tell me," Mr Tricoli said. "In 30 years of practice, I've never experienced anything like this.. It's a miracle."

Marciante was convicted in absentia in September of Mafia association and homicide. Lawyers are appealing against the 30-year sentence for homicide, but a seven- year sentence for Mafia association has been upheld.

The Pope was addressing Italy's Parliament, urging Italians to strengthen their Christian values, have more children and work for the common good.

Pope John Paul also called for clemency for Italian prisoners, but it was his comments on Christian and family values that inspired Marciante, Mr Tricoli said.

The Advertiser

Mafioso heeds pope, gives up (Boston Globe)
Italians Cheer a Papal First (AP)
Pope urges Italians to have more kids (15/11/02)
Pope's timely message (Times of Malta)

18 Nov 2002