Igor Vaclavic, a Serbian national who also goes by the name Norbert Feher, has been one of Italy’s most wanted since he allegedly shot dead two men in April.
He was arrested in eastern Spain early on Friday morning after a gun battle that killed three people, two of them police officers.
Prosecutors in Bologna, where Vaclavic allegedly killed his first victim, said that Italy would file for extradition – though Spain is also likely to want to try him for the three killings there.
Vaclavic, dubbed “Igor the Russian” and “Rambo” by the Italian press, evaded a massive manhunt across northern Italy, reportedly surviving by scavenging as he hid out in the countryside of Emilia-Romagna.
He is wanted for the murders of Davide Fabbri, a barman killed in an attempted robbery at his bar near Bologna on April 1st, and Valerio Verri, a park ranger shot as he approached the suspect in woodland near Ferrara a week later. A police officer was also shot, but survived.
Vaclavic, said to be a former soldier, faces additional charges of robbery and sexual assault in Serbia.
He is said to have been heavily armed when Spanish police arrested him in the town of Cantavieja, some 12 hours after he allegedly shot dead two civil guards and a civilian at an isolated farmhouse.
This photo claims to show Vaclavic shortly after his arrest.
The shooting “demonstrates not only the dangerous of the subject but also the absence of scruples”, said Bologna’s chief prosector, Giuseppe Amato.
Italy’s Interior Minister Marco Minniti, who said that Italian and Spanish authorities had been working together to locate Vaclavic for some time, thanked the police in Spain and offered his condolences to the victims in both countries.
Responding to criticism that Italy failed to capture Vaclavic, Minnitti said that the Italian investigation may have seemed slow at times, but came through in the end.
Vaclaviv was identified by comparing his fingerprints with records in Italy, the Italian state police said.
Siamo vicini alle Spagna per le tre vittime morte nel conflitto a fuoco con #Igor il Russo arrestato da @guardiacivil e identificato attraverso le impronte digitali inserite in banca dati dalla #poliziascientifica italiana https://t.co/QMFuE1KSeG— Polizia di Stato (@poliziadistato) December 15, 2017
"I hope that Igor serves his time and that justice can finally be done," commented Fabbri's widow, Maria Sirica, "even if it doesn't change the tragedy for me."