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CRIME

Life in prison for school bomber

An Italian who carried out a school bombing in 2012 that killed a teenage girl and wounded five others was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday, Italian media reports said.

Life in prison for school bomber
The attack took place in the southern city of Brindisi. Photo: Enza/Flickr

Giovanni Vantaggiato, a 69-year-old husband and father of two, set off a bomb made from three gas canisters as pupils were entering the school in the southern city of Brindisi, killing 16-year-old Melissa Bassi and seriously wounding five or her classmates.

Prosecutor Cataldo Motta had accused Vantaggiato of "wanting to kill…and intimidate his country" and said the discovery by police of three other explosive devices following the school bombing proved he had "planned to carry out another attack".

Vantaggiato, who owns a fuel depot, had told investigators he was having financial difficulties after being swindled out of €400,000 euros and several of his clients – including the school – had cancelled their contracts with him.

He admitted to having made the bomb and tested the detonator the night before the attack, before installing the device in front of the Brindisi school and setting it off the next morning.

The attack – the first against a school in Italy – shocked the nation, sparking comparisons with a spate of bombings carried out in the 1970s by the militant left-wing Red Brigades.

The sentence comes just days after a school janitor in Sicily was arrested for murder after shooting a teacher five times.

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CRIME

New York returns millions worth of stolen art to Italy

Prosecutors in New York on Tuesday returned dozens of antiquities stolen from Italy and valued at around $19 million, some of which were found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

New York returns millions worth of stolen art to Italy

“These 58 pieces represent thousands of years of rich history, yet traffickers throughout Italy utilized looters to steal these items and to line their own pockets,” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, noting that it was the third such repatriation in nine months.

“For far too long, they have sat in museums, homes, and galleries that had no rightful claim to their ownership,” he said at a ceremony attended by Italian diplomats and law enforcement officials.

The stolen items had been sold to Michael Steinhardt, one of the world’s leading collectors of ancient art, the DA’s office said, adding that he had been slapped with a “first-of-its-kind lifetime ban on acquiring antiquities.”

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Among the recovered treasures, which in some cases were sold to “unwitting collectors and museums,” were a marble head of the Greek goddess Athena from 200 B.C.E. and a drinking cup dating back to 470 B.C.E, officials said.

The pieces were stolen at the behest of four men who “all led highly lucrative criminal enterprises – often in competition with one another – where they would use local looters to raid archaeological sites throughout Italy, many of which were insufficiently guarded,” the DA’s office said.

One of them, Pasquale Camera, was “a regional crime boss who organized thefts from museums and churches as early as the 1960s. He then began purchasing stolen artifacts from local looters and sold them to antiquities dealers,” it added.

It said that this year alone, the DA’s office has “returned nearly 300 antiquities valued at over $66 million to 12 countries.”

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