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CRIME

Italy’s first female jihadist sentenced to nine years

A woman thought to be the first Italian to join Isis in Syria was sentenced to nine years in prison in absentia on Monday.

Italy's first female jihadist sentenced to nine years
The woman was the first known Italian female jihadist. File photo: al-Furqan Media/AFP

A Milan court sentenced Maria Giulia Sergio, who now goes by the name 'Fatima', along with her husband, Albanian national Aldo Kobuzi, and three other family members.

Sergio, 29, received a nine-year sentence, according to Il Corriere, which was what the prosecutors had requested.

The ruling is the first in Italy dealing with foreign fighters in absentia. Sergio is thought to still be in Syria, where she joined the terror group Isis two years ago.

Sergio's mother- and sister-in-law were also sentenced to eight years each.

Her father, Sergio Sergio, was the only member of the group not to have left Italy. He received a four-year sentence for “organizing and financing a journey for terrorist purposes”.

The couple's relatives were arrested in June last year as part of Italy's anti-terrorism sweep, after having sold their furniture and applied for passports.

A former student at the University of Milan, Sergio gave a chilling interview to Il Corriere, in which she described the Islamic State – where women have been raped and forced into sexual slavery – as the “perfect country”, where people respect human rights.

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015, ex-Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said fresh legislation would target “foreign fighters” seeking to travel from or through Italy en route to joining Islamic militants.

The new law gave the Italian government power to confiscate suspects' passports.

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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