6th November, 2018
Workers at a post office in northern Italy were held hostage for about seven hours on Monday by a man, who was protesting a recent 19-year jail sentence for Mafia crimes.
Francesco Amato, who was convicted recently for belonging to the fearsome ‘Ndrangheta Mafia’, surrendered after the stand-off with police.
At around 9.30 a.m. (0830 GMT), he walked into a post office in Pieve Modolena, on the outskirts of Reggio Emilia.
He allowed customers to leave but took five employees hostage.
One hostage was allowed to leave after she fell ill and was taken away by an ambulance.
Another female hostage said in a phone interview with the RAI public broadcaster that Amato was “rather calm,’’ but armed with a knife and was demanding to speak with Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini.
A Carabinieri Police Chief told ANSA that police negotiators convinced Amato to surrender by appealing “a lot” to his deeply held Catholic beliefs.
At the time, he was on the run, avoiding arrest after the sentence.
“He turned himself in and handed over the knife.
“Special Forces were ready to intervene, but we tried to be patient,’’ Carabinieri General Cristiano Desideri said.
Amato was one of over 120 people convicted recently in the biggest-ever trial on the presence of the ‘Ndrangheta Mafia in northern Italy.
Another defendant was retired footballer, Vincenzo Iaquinta, part of the national squad that won the 2006 World Cup.
He was sentenced to two years for passing on guns to his ‘Ndrangheta-affiliated father.