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JAIL

Killer escapes Italian prison using knotted bed sheets

Italy launched a manhunt after two inmates, including a convicted murderer, escaped from Rome’s Rebibbia prison on Sunday night.

Killer escapes Italian prison using knotted bed sheets
The inmates escaped from Rome's Rebibbia prison. Photo: Andrea Solaro/AFP

In an old-fashioned style jail-break, the pair cut through the bars of a window with a saw before scaling down the outer wall using a rope of knotted sheets, Ansa reported.

The men, both from Romania, then jumped over an external wall and fled by foot on Via Tiburtina.

At the time of their escape, they had been at a workshop in the prison’s new annex, where there were just two guards on duty for 150 inmates, the prison guards’ union, Sappe, told Ansa, adding that the alarm system wasn’t working.

The men were named as 33-year-old Catalin Ciobanu, who was serving time for murder, and Mihai Florin Diaconescu, 28, who was in prison for burglary.

Prison escapes – and by using knotted sheets – are not such a rare occurrence in Italy.

In 2014, a prisoner in Sicily broke the bars of his cell at Pagliarelli prison and climbed down the wall on a rope of knotted sheets. The same man also managed to escape from a prison in Parma a year earlier.

In December 2013, two killers managed to escape a prison in northern Italy after being granted day release.

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ROME

Body of missing American tourist found in Rome’s River Tiber

The body of a missing 21-year-old tourist was found in the River Tiber on Thursday morning, according to media reports.

Body of missing American tourist found in Rome's River Tiber

Elijah Oliphant, from Dallas, Texas, was on holiday with his family in Rome when he went missing several days ago.

Oliphant’s parents reported his disappearance after he left his hotel room shortly after midnight on May 24th and did not return.

Hotel security footage showed him leaving the premises wearing a white undershirt and pyjama bottoms, which he was wearing when he was found.

Oliphant’s corpse was reportedly spotted by passersby near the Ponte Sisto bridge in Rome’s Trastevere district around 10am on Thursday morning. His body was positively identified by his parents.

Members of the fire brigade and river police who recovered the body say there were no obvious signs of violence, but an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death. Trastevere police are reportedly investigating the matter.

The Oliphant family had arrived in Rome for a holiday on May 23rd. When Elijah went missing the following day, his parents launched an urgent appeal to help find their son.

His disappearance was featured on the missing persons television show, Chi l’ha visto (‘Who’s seen them?’) on May 25th.

Several foreigners have been found drowned in the Tiber in recent years, though there are no indication that any of the incidents are linked.

In 2016, the body of 19-year-old American student Beau Solomon was recovered from the river.

Rough sleeper Massimo Galioto was charged involuntary manslaughter in the case, but was ultimately acquitted in 2020.

Prosecutors said that Galioto pushed Solomon in the course of a violent argument. Galioto’s defense team acknowledged that the two had argued but said the student had accidentally slipped.

In May 2019, 37-year-old Imen Chatbouri, a former athletics champion from Tunisia, was found dead in the Tiber after a night out. CCTV footage later showed she had been pushed from the Ponte Sisto bridge.

A then-26-year-old man whose advances she had rejected earlier that evening was convicted of her murder in November 2021.

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