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CRIME

Italian murderer back in prison after his seventh escape

An Italian murderer who escaped from prison for the seventh time earlier this month was caught on Tuesday hiding in a sheep pen, police said.

Italian murderer back in prison after his seventh escape
Inside an Italian prison. File photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP
Giuseppe Mastini, 60, nicknamed Johnny lo zingaro or “Johnny the Gypsy”, had been missing for a week.
 
He took advantage of a temporary release from a high-security jail in Sardinia to flee on September 6th, failing to return to his cell – not for the first time.
 
“The fugitive was found at a countryside property near Sassari,” in the island's northwest, police told AFP.
 
Officers searched dozens of houses in the area and found Mastini hiding in a sheep pen next to a blacksmith's forge.
 
Mastini had dyed his hair platinum blonde in a bid to disguise himself.
 
“We always escape for love,” he told the policemen that found him, according to the Corriere della Sera newspaper – though no one else was in the pen with him.
 
The blacksmith was arrested on charges of harbouring a known fugitive, police said.
 
Originally from Bergamo in northern Italy, Mastini moved to Rome in the1970s with his family and committed his first murder aged 11, according to Italian news agency ANSA.
 
He was also cited in the investigation into the unsolved 1975 murder of filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini.
 
Mastini first escaped from jail in 1987, when he failed to show up after another temporary release from prison.
 
 
He was on the run for two years, during which time he committed robberies, murdered a police officer, injured another, and took a young girl hostage.
 
Caught and jailed again, he was given another temporary release in 2014 during which he fled. In June 2017, he once again escaped from a prison in northern Italy, following the same method.
 
This year's escape was his seventh.
 
Italy's police union was angered by the escape, saying such episodes give criminals a “feeling of impunity”.
 
Vincenzo Chianese, president of the ES Polizia union, told Italian media these escapes had to stop, “not only to prevent families of victims having to be warned every time this happens, thus renewing their pain, but also because the feeling of impunity in our country deeply undermines the credibility of the state.”

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CULTURE

Two more statues of Iron Age boxers unearthed in Sardinia

Archaeologists in Sardinia have unearthed the torsos of two more limestone statues of boxers within the Iron Age necropolis of Mont'e Prama, Italy's culture ministry said Saturday.

Two more statues of Iron Age boxers unearthed in Sardinia

Culture Minister Dario Franceschini called the find at the archaeological site in Cabras, western central Sardinia, an “exceptional discovery” that should shed more light on the ancient Mediterranean culture whose tombs and
statuary have been slowly uncovered since the 1970s.

The naked torsos and other fragments have been identified as boxers, due to a shield that wraps around their bodies, and are similar to another two sculptures unearthed a few metres away in 2014 and now on display at the local museum, the ministry said.

Archaeologists working on the southern part of the sprawling necropolis — first discovered in 1974 by local farmers — also found the continuation of the site’s funerary road on a north-south axis, along which have been found
tombs dating back to between about 950 BC to 730 BC.

While small and medium-sized fragments are being documented and recovered from the earth, “the two large and heavy blocks of torsos will need time to be freed from the sediment surrounding them and to be prepared for safe recovery,” said the culture ministry’s superintendent for southern Sardinia, Monica Stochino.

The site is believed to be part of the Nuragic civilisation that controlled the island of Sardinia for centuries beginning in the Bronze Age. The people erected mysterious stone towers called “nuraghe” that today dot the Sardinian
countryside and whose original purpose remains unknown.

Thousands of fragments and major pieces from Mont’e Prama discovered over the decades have so far been reassembled into about two dozen statues, each over 2 metres tall, that have been identified as warriors, archers or boxers.

Archaeologists still do not know precisely what the statues represent or what purpose they served.

Nor is it clear where they were originally located before being deliberately shattered in ancient times, according to researchers — who cannot agree whether this was carried out by Phoenicians, Carthaginians, or by warring Nuragic groups themselves — and strewn above and near the tombs.

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