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Pontiff Speaks, Fugitive Surrenders

November 15, 2002|From Associated Press

ROME — A fugitive Mafia boss facing more than 30 years in prison for murder surrendered Thursday, saying he was inspired by Pope John Paul II's historic speech to Italy's Parliament, the suspect's lawyer said.

Benedetto Marciante was particularly taken by the pope's comments on family values, lawyer Roberto Tricoli said. Marciante surrendered at a Rome prison.

"In 30 years of practice, I've never experienced anything like this," Tricoli said from his office in Palermo, Sicily. "It's a miracle."

Tricoli quoted his client as saying the pope's comments, broadcast live on state television, awakened his own religious beliefs despite the "adversity" facing him.

"He decided spontaneously," Tricoli said.

Marciante, 50, was convicted in absentia in September of Mafia association and murder, Tricoli said. Lawyers are appealing the 30-year sentence for murder, but a seven-year sentence for Mafia association has been upheld.

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