Fourteen prison officers investigated over knotted bedsheets escape

Three prisoners, including a convicted killer, are still at large after an escape from a Rome prison which was made possible by "significant deficiencies" in surveillance, prosecutors claim.

Fourteen prison officers investigated over knotted bedsheets escape
The outside of the Rebibbia prison. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Using sawed bars and knotted bedsheets, the three were able to flee down the wall and out of the prison on October 27th.

All three remain at large and are considered dangerous. One was serving a life sentence for murder, arms trafficking and involvement in a prostitution ring, while another was due for release in 2041, having been found guilty of attempted murder, and drugs and arms trafficking.

The third was serving jail time for pimping and drugs trafficking, with his sentence set to end in 2020.

Now fourteen officers at the Rebibbia prison, including its former director Mauro Mariani, face investigation for security breaches which allowed the escape to happen.

The staff, including are accused of “omission of due care” and “violation of regulations”, Il Corriere reported.

Investigators flagged up “very significant deficiencies” in their report, which has been submitted to the Minister of Justice.

Searches of the inmates' cells uncovered mobile phones, drugs and “offensive weapons”, while it emerged that surveillance had not been carried out routinely and the prison's security monitor had been left unmanned.

The alarm was not raised for nine hours after the escape, when another inmate reported the three missing – even though prison officers had reportedly seen the bedsheets hanging out of the window.

The most significant problem is that this wasn't the first example of such an escape.

In February, the same technique was used by another convicted killer serving time in Rebibbia, who escaped along with a fellow inmate, prompting a national manhunt.

After this incident, an investigation took place and security breaches were supposed to have been fixed. It was the failure to do this, according to the prosecutors, allowed the second escape to happen.

Questions have also been raised over why the three men were housed in a lower security area of the prison, given the serious nature of their convictions.

They were among 39 inmates of Camerino prison who were moved to the Rome jail as part of a mass evacuation after central Italy suffered a series of destructive earthquakes. 


New York returns 214 stolen artworks to Italy in seven months

Authorities in New York announced on Thursday the return to Italy of 14 more antiquities, worth an estimated €2.3 million, as part of an investigation into smuggling of stolen artifacts.

New York returns 214 stolen artworks to Italy in seven months

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has been conducting an extensive investigation over the past two years into looted antiquities that have ended up in New York museums and galleries — including the prestigious Metropolitan Museum of Art.

During a ceremony on Thursday with the Italian consul general and Italian police representatives, 14 more artifacts – some 2,600 years old – were officially returned to Italy, bringing the total number of repatriated pieces to that country over the past seven months to 214, District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office said.

READ ALSO: Italian ‘art squad’ police recover 800 illegally-excavated archaeological finds

More than 700 pieces worth more than $100 million have been returned in the past year to 17 countries, including Italy as well as Cambodia, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Iraq, and Greece, the statement added.

New York, a hub of stolen antiquities trafficking for decades, set up a task force in 2017 to investigate the illicit trade.

According to the statement by District Attorney Bragg, who took office in January 2022, Thursday’s repatriation included the silver “Sicily Naxos Coin,” minted around 430 BCE and currently valued at half a million dollars.

Other notable items included ancient pottery dating to 510 BCE, and amarble head of Roman Emperor Hadrian, dating to 200 CE.

Among the culprits behind the 14 returned pieces, the statement said, were well-known art traffickers Giacomo Medici and Giovanni Franco Becchina, as well as Robert Hecht, the Paris-based American art dealer who died in 2012.

The traffickers had “relied on gangs of tombaroli (tomb raiders) to loot carefully chosen and insufficiently guarded archaeological sites throughout the Mediterranean,” it added.