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CRIME

Italian admits burning his ex alive ‘because she left him’

A 27-year-old man has admitted burning his ex-girlfriend alive because he “couldn’t accept that she abandoned him”.

Italian admits burning his ex alive 'because she left him'
Rome Flying Squad chief Luigi Silipo and prosecutor Maria Monteleone during a press conference on Monday. Screengrab: RepTV/La Repubblica

Vincenzo Paduano was arrested for pre-meditated murder after the burning body of 22-year-old Sara Di Pietrantonio was found in the outskirts of Rome by her mother in the early hours of Sunday morning, lying close to a car engulfed by flames.

“I’ve never seen a crime as atrocious as this during the 25 years of doing this job,” Rome Flying Squad chief Luigi Silipo said during a press conference.

Di Pietrantonio, an economics student at Roma Tre University, had left Paduano some time before and had begun a new relationship, Silipo said.

The pair had been together for two years but went through a “violent period” a few months ago.

“He couldn’t accept that she abandoned him,” the prosecutor leading the investigation, Maria Monteleone, said.

“First he set fire to her car, then he chased her and set her alight.”

Paduano, a security guard, allegedly followed Di Pietrantonio home in the early hours of Sunday, ramming his car into the back of hers before dousing the vehicle with a flammable liquid and setting it alight. She was able to escape from the car, but he chased after her. The student is said to have screamed for help from passing motorists, but nobody stopped.

On Saturday night, Di Pietrantonio had dinner with a friend and later went on to a club.

She sent her mother a message at around 3.30am to say she was on her way back after accompanying her friend home. But after she failed to return, her mother and uncle went looking for her

They found the car in flames, and about 500 metres away, in a restaurant car park, was the girl’s burning body.

After questioning friends and family members, police quickly realized that De Pietrantonio had “suffered huge psychological abuse” over the course of the relationship, Silipo said.

“They split up at least three times. Sara recently started a new relationship. He followed her, at least on two occasions, the last of which was fatal.”

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ROME

‘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.

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