Milan court condemns Italian ‘jihadi family’

In one of Italy's most closely watched terrorism cases a sentence of five years and four months was handed down to the sister of the woman thought to be Italy's first female jihadi.

Milan court condemns Italian 'jihadi family'
Maria Giulia Sergio, the 28-year-old Italian who joined Isis last year. Screengrab: Corriere della Sera

Maria Giulia Sergio, who changed her name to Fatima Az Zahara, is among Italy's highest profile foreign fighters. She left for Syria with her Albanian husband in September 2014.

La Repubblica reported that Sergio's sister, Marianna, was sentenced to five years and four months in jail, while Sergio's father and five of her husband's relatives are expected to receive sentences of between two and three years in hearings scheduled to continue in April.

In July last year, the couple's relatives were arrested as part of Italy’s anti-terrorism sweep. Sergio's family had sold their furniture and applied for passports before being arrested for “organizing a journey for terrorist purposes” – an offence which was applied for the first time in this case.

Her mother died the day after the arrest.

Sergio is still thought to be in Syria with the Isis terrorist group and was charged in absentia with “international terrorism”, while her sister Marianna was sentenced to five years and four months.

In a chilling Skype interview with Corriere della Sera, Sergio said that she had tried to persuade her parents to join Isis, because “they could have a good life here”.

A former student at the University of Milan, she described the Islamic State – where women have been raped and forced into sexual slavery – as the “perfect country”, where people respect human rights.

The sentence was decided by Milan judge Donatella Banci Buonamici.




‘Bank robber’ rescued in Rome after tunnel collapses

Four people were arrested in Rome after a suspected would-be bank robber was rescued from a tunnel under a road, police said on Friday.

'Bank robber' rescued in Rome after tunnel collapses

An Italian man had to be rescued after becoming trapped in a collapsed tunnel near the Vatican, suspected of being part of a gang burrowing its way to a nearby bank.

Firefighters spent eight hours digging him out from under a road in the west of Rome, before he was finally freed on Thursday evening and taken to hospital.

“Two people from Naples were arrested for resisting a public official and two, from Rome, for damage” to public property, a police spokesman told AFP.

The rescued man, one of the two Romans, remains in hospital, he said without giving an update on his condition.

“We are still investigating, we do not exclude that they are thieves, it is one of the theories,” he said.

For Italian newspapers, however, the motive was clear, with reports noting the tunnel was found near a bank ahead of the August 15th long weekend, when residents traditionally head out of town and much of Rome is left empty.

“The hole gang,” headlined newspapers Repubblica and Corriere della Sera, while La Stampa said: “They dig a tunnel to rob a bank, and one of them is buried underground.”

Other reports referred to the suspected burglar as l’uomo-talpa, or ‘mole man’.

An AFP reporter at the scene on Thursday saw the man brought out alive on a stretcher, after a day-long operation involving dozens of emergency service workers using mechanical diggers.

The tunnel began underneath an empty shop that had recently been rented.

“We all thought that the people there were renovating the place. So we had no suspicions and we did not hear noises either,” a resident, Michele, who lives in the same building told AFP.