Italian murderer back in prison after his seventh escape

An Italian murderer who escaped from prison for the seventh time earlier this month was caught on Tuesday hiding in a sheep pen, police said.

Italian murderer back in prison after his seventh escape
Inside an Italian prison. File photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP
Giuseppe Mastini, 60, nicknamed Johnny lo zingaro or “Johnny the Gypsy”, had been missing for a week.
He took advantage of a temporary release from a high-security jail in Sardinia to flee on September 6th, failing to return to his cell – not for the first time.
“The fugitive was found at a countryside property near Sassari,” in the island's northwest, police told AFP.
Officers searched dozens of houses in the area and found Mastini hiding in a sheep pen next to a blacksmith's forge.
Mastini had dyed his hair platinum blonde in a bid to disguise himself.
“We always escape for love,” he told the policemen that found him, according to the Corriere della Sera newspaper – though no one else was in the pen with him.
The blacksmith was arrested on charges of harbouring a known fugitive, police said.
Originally from Bergamo in northern Italy, Mastini moved to Rome in the1970s with his family and committed his first murder aged 11, according to Italian news agency ANSA.
He was also cited in the investigation into the unsolved 1975 murder of filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini.
Mastini first escaped from jail in 1987, when he failed to show up after another temporary release from prison.
He was on the run for two years, during which time he committed robberies, murdered a police officer, injured another, and took a young girl hostage.
Caught and jailed again, he was given another temporary release in 2014 during which he fled. In June 2017, he once again escaped from a prison in northern Italy, following the same method.
This year's escape was his seventh.
Italy's police union was angered by the escape, saying such episodes give criminals a “feeling of impunity”.
Vincenzo Chianese, president of the ES Polizia union, told Italian media these escapes had to stop, “not only to prevent families of victims having to be warned every time this happens, thus renewing their pain, but also because the feeling of impunity in our country deeply undermines the credibility of the state.”

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Tourist fined €450 for swim in Rome’s Trevi Fountain

With the return of tourism and scorching temperatures, Rome’s fountains are once again attracting visitors hoping to cool off with a midnight swim.

Tourist fined €450 for swim in Rome's Trevi Fountain

In the latest incident, a 26-year-old Spanish man was fined 450 euros after taking a dip in the Trevi Fountain in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Rome’s city police apprehended and fined the man after he was spotted swimming in the 18th-century monument at around 5am, according to local media reports.

READ ALSO: How to keep cool like an Ancient Roman in Italy’s summer heat

Every summer, hapless foreign visitors face fines of hundreds of euros after falling foul of Rome’s strict ban on taking a dip in public fountains – with the city mayor warning tourists that the centuries-old Baroque monuments are “not swimming pools”.

In April, two Dutch tourists also faced fines totalling over €1,000 after their own ill-advised splash in the Trevi Fountain.

The Roman landmark is one of the city’s main magnets for badly-behaved visitors, but tourists have also been fined after cooling off in the Santa Maria fountain in Trastevere, believed to be the city’s oldest. 

Since 2018, anyone caught misbehaving at Rome’s monuments can also face a temporary ‘Daspo’ ban from the area – similar to an ASBO (anti-social behaviour order) in the UK – which allows city police to restrict the movement of people they deem a threat to public order.

READ ALSO: From selfie brawls to midnight swims: Tourists behaving badly at the Trevi Fountain

But a plan to erect a one-metre-high glass and steel barrier around the Trevi fountain to protect it from unruly visitors now appears to have been abandoned after arts and heritage experts called the idea “foolish”.

Fines for swimming in the fountains have been in place since 2015, but this hasn’t stopped determined visitors from recreating scenes from La Dolce Vita and even some locals from taking a dip – – with or without their clothes.

Swimming in the wrong place is just one of the offences regularly committed by visitors, with graffiti and vandalism a common problem at many of Italy’s famous monuments.

READ ALSO: 15 strange ways to get into trouble on holiday in Italy

In Rome alone, this year tourists have made headlines for everything from breaking into the Colosseum to enjoy a drink with a view to driving a car down the Spanish Steps.

Other Italian tourism hotspots, including Florence and Venice, also have varying local rules in place aimed at curbing rowdy behaviour.