Hostages held by mafia case convict in Italy set free

ROME, Nov. 5 (Xinhua) — All hostages held by a knife-wielding Italian man in a post office in Italy’s central Reggio Emilia region were set free after some 10 hours, authorities said Monday.

The 55-year-old man, Francesco Amato, was arrested by Italy’s military Carabinieri police, which had cordoned off the area since early morning.

He surrendered after long negotiations, and without any use of force, according to police sources.

None of the hostages were injured.

“It has been a hard and delicate operation, with negotiators by the Special Intervention Group (GIS) leading talks with the kidnapper,” Carabinieri regional commander, Gen. Claudio Domizi, told state-run RAI broadcaster on the scene.

“Fortunately, any decisive (armed) intervention has been unnecessary,” the official added.

The man entered the post office in the small town of Pieve Modolena near Reggio Emilia city early morning. With a knife, he took five staff, including the director, hostage. After some hours, he let one of the female hostages free.

Last week, Amato had been convicted to 19 years and one month in jail in a mafia case involving almost 150 defendants, about 120 of them received various sentences.

Amato had been free on bail during the trial, and went fugitive immediately after the sentence.

According to ANSA news agency, he claimed the conviction was unfair despite his criminal records, since he never had links whatsoever with mafia groups.

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