Police in Sicily have arrested two suspected mobsters accused of plotting to murder a judge with a car bomb. Prosecutor Renato Di Natale on Friday confirmed the arrests and said the men planned to use a large quantity of explosives to kill a judge in the central Sicilian town of Caltanissetta.
A similar type of attack killed one of Italy's most famous anti-Mafia prosecutors in 1992.
Speaking to RAI state radio, Di Natale refused to identify the judge or give details about the timing of the plot, which Italian news reports said was imminent.
Italian news agency Apcom said the plot targeted Judge Ottavio Sferlezza, who presided over a trial of those convicted in the 1992 car bomb attack that killed top anti-mob prosecutor Giovanni Falcone. Falcone's murder and that of another top anti-Mafia prosecutor, Paolo Borsellino, two months later caused outrage across Italy, prompting the government to launch a crackdown against the Mafia.
Apcom reported that the arrest of the two suspects came after a tip-off from a Mafia turncoat who told authorities that mobsters based in Gela, on the southern coast of Sicily, had decided on Sferlezza's killing because the judge was considered too "harsh."
The ANSA news agency identified one of those arrested as 38-year-old Paolo Palmeri, head of the Mafia clan based in Gela.
Palmeri's clan was linked through a chain of command to Bernardo Provenzano, the man considered by authorities to have taken control of the Sicilian Mafia, ANSA said.
Provenzano is believed to have taken over from the former "boss of bosses" Salvatore "Toto" Riina, who was arrested in the crackdown that followed the killings of Falcone and Borsellino.
Riina and 28 others, including alleged top lieutenants, were tried and convicted for Falcone's killing, reports the AP. I.L.