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CRIME

Italian families want ‘Monster of Florence’ serial killer case reopened

The 'Monster of Florence' was thought to have murdered 16 people in Italy and remains on the loose.

The families of victims of an Italian serial killer known as the 'Monster of Florence' have asked prosecutors to look into new leads
The families of victims of an Italian serial killer known as the 'Monster of Florence' have asked prosecutors to look into new leads. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP)

Families of victims of a serial killer who terrorised Florence in the 1970s and 80s are demanding a new probe into one of Italy’s darkest unsolved mysteries, a lawyer said on Friday.

Relatives of three victims have formally asked prosecutors in the Tuscan city to look afresh at potential leads into the so-called “Monster of Florence”, believed to have murdered 16 people.

“We are looking for the truth, with a new investigation, and we’re convinced that there are elements in the old case files that were wrongly overlooked,” lawyer Valter Biscotti told AFP.

Biscotti represents Estelle Lanciotti, the eldest daughter of French victim Nadine Mauriot, who was shot dead in 1985 with Jean Michel Kraveichvili during a camping holiday in Italy.

The victims were all couples, killed with the same Beretta pistol. Most were attacked in cars, during or just after having sex. Mauriot, murdered in her tent, was one of four women whose breasts or pubic areas were mutilated.

We want a fresh look at a lead concerning a suspect named in an old police file who was never investigated properly, as well as DNA found on anonymous letters,” Biscotti said.

Years of investigations into the murders, which took place in small towns around Florence between 1968 and 1985, lead police to suspect everyone from a poor farmer to Italy’s secret service and a satanic cult.

Five men were at one point or another accused of the killings but in each case, while they were in jail, another murder took place and they were freed.

One of these men had confessed. 

‘Inconsistencies’

The lawyers for relatives of Mauriot, Kraveichvili and Carmela De Nuccio, who was killed in 1981, have requested access to the case file of one-time suspect Pietro Pacciani, a farmer.

Pacciani, a convicted murderer who was also found guilty of raping his two daughters, was given life in 1994 for killing six of the eight couples but was cleared by an appeal court two years later.

That ruling was then overturned by Italy’s highest appeals court but Pacciani died in 1998 from a heart attack at the age of 73 before he could be retried.

Prosecutors had portrayed Pacciani as a violent and sex-obsessed man who committed the murders with several friends with whom he used to frequent brothels.

Two of those friends — Mario Vanni and Giancarlo Lotti — were found guilty of four of the eight double murders after Lotti confessed. Both were jailed and both have since died.

There were “inconsistencies” in Lotti’s confession, however, and some of the murders remain unclaimed, suggesting “none of the trials so far have got to the whole truth”, Biscotti said.

Other suspects included another friend of Pacciani’s, Giampiero Vigilanti. A police search of his house in the 1980s found newspaper cuttings on the killings and bullets of the same make used in the murders.

Biscotti said he and the other lawyers want the probe into Vigilanti, now 90, to be reopened.

They also want male DNA found on anonymous letters sent to prosecutors in 1985 — which did not match Pacciani’s — to be compared against the suspect they say police were too quick to overlook.

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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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