The Chronicle

Mafia don bust goes wrong


THE HAGUE: Dutch law authoritie­s have released a British Formula 1 fan after he was mistakenly arrested on suspicion being a notorious Sicilian Mafia boss.

The man, only identified by his lawyer as Mark L, 54, from Liverpool, was cuffed and blindfolde­d on Wednesday when heavily armed police stormed a restaurant in The Hague, shocking onlookers.

The arrest came after Italy issued an internatio­nal arrest warrant, believing that the man was Matteo Messina Denaro, a leading Sicilian Mafia boss on the run since 1993.

“The man arrested earlier this week in a Hague restaurant, is not the man sought by Italian authoritie­s,” the Dutch public prosecutor’s office said. “He has been freed immediatel­y.”

His lawyer Leon van Kleef said there were suspicions of a mix-up from the start.

“My client told me he was from Spain, where he now lives, and was here for the Formula 1 race last weekend in Zandvoort,” Van Kleef said.

“I had a strong hunch to believe him.”

After his arrest Mark L was taken to Vught maximum security prison, where some of the country’s most notorious criminals are held.

“It’s like a bad movie, a nightmare that my client has found himself in,” said Van Kleef, who revealed Mark L would look into seeking compensati­on.

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