independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Police launch manhunt to find serial killer at large

Bartolomeo Gagliano, a convicted serial killer is reportedly armed and "dangerous." (AP Photo/Tano Pecoraro)

Italian police launched a manhunt today after a serial killer who was allowed to leave a Genoa prison on a two-day, good behaviour pass to see his elderly mother failed to return.

Bartolomeo Gagliano is armed and "dangerous", Genoa police official Fausto Lamparelli said. He urged people who think they might have spotted Gagliano to quickly call police.

There were fears that the fugitive might have driven across the border into France.

Gagliano, now 55, was convicgted of stoning one prostitute to death and injuring another in 1981, but ruled him mentally incapable of understanding the crime and ordered him to an asylum for the criminally insane, according to authorities.

After escaping from the asylum in 1989, he killed, along with another man, a female transsexual and a male transvestite, and was again sent to a criminal asylum for psychiatric treatment, authorities quoted in Italian news reports said.

Gagliano being granted a good behaviour pass despite a record of escapes and violence sparked an outcry in Italy. Justice Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri was scheduled to brief the Chamber of Deputies on the case tomorrow morning.

"We can make the best laws in the world, but if we have magistrates and prison directors who make such big mistakes, no law can stand up to that," politician Marco Di Lello said.

Genoa's Marassi Prison director, Salvatore Mazzeo, insisted in several Italian TV interviews that Galgiano had been sent to his prison in 2006 for a robbery conviction. A justice ministry penitentiary administration official, Luigi Pagano, told Radio 24 that Gagliano had been due for release in about a year.

Authorities said that, while Gagliano was on the permitted visit to his mother in Savona, on the Ligurian coast, he forced a bakery worker at gunpoint to start driving him away. He later ordered the driver out of the car and drove off himself.

Corriere della Sera quoted the baker as saying that Gagliano told him he had spent long periods in prison and at a certain point "suddenly ordered me to stop, said he had enough of prison, and he was getting away".

Genoa newspaper Il Secolo XIX quoted magistrate Daniela Verrina, who signed off on the pass, as saying that prison reports about Gagliano indicated "no psychopathological signs".

The paper reported that Gagliano had received another good behaviour pass earlier this year on condition that he was accompanied by the prison chaplain, and another one that let him visit his mother, and that he returned to prison on both occasions.

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