'No talks with smugglers over abducted Italians'

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Interior Minister Angelino Alfano. Photo: AFP
09:02 CEST+02:00
Italy’s Interior Ministry said on Wednesday that there would be no negotiations with human traffickers over the kidnapping of four Italian constructions workers in Libya.

The statement came after Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said during an interview with Sky TV earlier in the day that he could not rule out that the four might have been kidnapped in return for the release of Libyan migrant smugglers detained in Italy.

Fausto Piano, Gino Pollicardo, Salvatore Failla and Filippo Calcagno were abducted as they returned from a holiday in Tunisia.

The men, who were employees for the Parma-based contractor Bonatti, were near the premises of Italian oil giant Eni in the region of Mellitah, to the west of Tripoli, when they were taken.

“Minister Alfano never accredited any possibility of negotiations with traffickers,” the ministry said in a statement.

“We can’t rule out any lead, but let the people who are qualified to work on this do so in silence.

“We reiterate that while all leads will be followed, the only thing we rule out is negotiating with the traffickers".

Alaa Al Queck, a spokesman for the Fajr Libya militia, one of two rival Libyan governments that controls Tripoli, was quoted by the Italian media as saying the group, which helped to overthrow dictator Muammar Qaddafi, was not behind the abductions.

“We don’t know who took them,” he said.

“But we know they’re in the south-west of the country, and within ten days they will be free.”

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Plunged into chaos since the 2011 overthrow of Qaddafi, Libya has two parliaments and governments vying for power, as a slew of armed groups battle for control of its oil wealth.

Italy closed its embassy in Libya in February and had urged its citizens to leave the country over the escalating violence.

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