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Tourists face jail after trying to take 40kg of Sardinia’s sand home

A French couple are facing up to six years in prison after being caught leaving the island with 40kg of sand from Sardinia's beaches stashed in their car.

Tourists face jail after trying to take 40kg of Sardinia's sand home
Sardinia'a white sand proves irresistable to many visitors. Photo: Depositphotos

Border agents discovered the sand, from the beach of Chia in southern Sardinia, packed into 14 plastic bottles in the trunk of the couple's SUV yesterday as they were about to board a ferry departing from Porto Torres, Sardinia, to Toulon, France.

The pair reportedly said they wanted to take the sand home as a “souvenir” and did not realise they'd committed a crime.

But Sardinia's famed white sand is a protected resource, and removing it from the island is an offence normally punishable by fines of between €500 to €3,000.

Residents have long complained that visitors help themselves to handfuls of the fine white sand on the island's north-east coast – a favourite with holiday-makers – resulting in the loss of tonnes of the precious natural resource each year.

Authorities at Sardinia's ports and airport carry out systematic bag checks to catch passengers smuggling sand.

Airport agents in Olbia confiscate around 2 tonnes of stolen sand a year, according to local news site Gallura Oggi, while another 500 kilos were seized last summer from ferry passengers at the port of Olbia, where checks are less strict.

Over the past ten years they've seized some 10 tonnes, most of it collected in half-litre bottles, according to the director of a marine reserve off Sardinia's north-eastern coast.

But this is the first reported case of somone attempting to take such a large amount of sand home with them.

Some towns around Sardinia, which is home to some of Italy's most popular beaches, have proposed banning towels and large bags in a bid to stop holidaymakers removing sand from the fragile coastline, whether deliberately or inadvertently.

There's a “growing trade” internationally in sand, pebbles, shells and other objects from Sardinia's beaches, with the stolen items often being sold on Ebay, the Corriere della Sera writes.

Some repentant sand thieves have returned sand and shells to the island recently, where it is replaced onto suitable beaches.

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CRIME

Italy remembers murdered anti-mafia judge Falcone

Italy commemorated the death of Italian judge Giovanni Falcone on Monday, thirty years after the brutal Capaci bombing.

Italy remembers murdered anti-mafia judge Falcone

The entire country paid tribute on Monday to anti-mafia judge Giovanni Falcone, killed by the Sicilian mafia 30 years ago in a car bomb murder that shocked the country.

Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese laid a wreath at the memorial at the site of the blast at Capaci, near Palermo, that killed Falcone, his wife, and three members of his police escort on May 23rd 1992.

Another ceremony in Palermo was attended by Italian President Sergio Mattarella, whose brother Piersanti, then Sicily’s regional president, was also murdered by the mafia.

In a statement, Prime Minister Mario Draghi hailed the legacy of Falcone, saying that thanks to his “courage, professionalism and determination, Italy has become a freer and fairer country”.

He said Falcone and his colleagues – one of whom, Paolo Borsellino, was killed by Cosa Nostra two months later – “dealt decisive blows against the mafia”.

“Their heroism had rooted anti-mafia values in society, in new generations, in republican institutions,” he added, saying the “relentless fight against organised crime and […] the search for truth” must continue.

The mob used a skateboard to place a 500-kilogramme (1100-pound) charge of TNT and ammonium nitrate in a tunnel under the motorway which linked the airport to the centre of Palermo.

Falcone, driving a white Fiat Croma, was returning from Rome for the weekend. At a look-out point on the hill above, a mobster nicknamed “The Pig” pressed the remote control button as the judge’s three-car convoy passed.

The blast ripped through the asphalt, shredding bodies and metal, and flinging the lead car several hundred metres.

READ ALSO: How murdered judge Giovanni Falcone shaped Italy’s fight against the mafia

On July 19th, Borsellino was also killed in a car bomb attack, along with five members of his escort. Only his driver survived.

Falcone posed a real threat to Cosa Nostra, an organised crime group made famous by The Godfather trilogy, and which boasted access to the highest levels of Italian power.

He and Borsellino were later credited with revolutionising the understanding of the mafia, working closely with the first informants and compiling evidence for a groundbreaking ‘maxi-trial’ in which hundreds of mobsters were convicted in 1987.

“Thanks to Falcone and Borsellino, the Sicilian mafia became a notorious fact, not something that had to be proved to exist at every trial,” anti-mafia prosecutor Marzia Sabella told AFP.

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