Monday 19 November 2018

Actor endured 'mental torture' during police murder probe

Kerry Waldron and Jason O'Brien

AN Irish actor released without charge after being questioned about the brutal murder of an elderly neighbour in Italy has claimed he underwent "psychological torture" at the hands of Italian detectives.

Paudge Behan (42), a son of Brendan Behan's widow, was held for 24 hours and interrogated by police over the weekend following the murder of Silvana Abate (72) in Arcidosso, Tuscany.

Mrs Abate's body was found on Friday but Mr Behan came under suspicion when he sought medical attention for a knife wound to his knee on Thursday evening.

When he returned to the hospital the next day for a tetanus shot he was arrested by a five-strong police unit.

He was questioned at the hospital for a number of hours before being transferred to a police station.

"They didn't let me know what it was all about, they wouldn't let me have a phone call or a translator," Mr Behan said yesterday.

"It was like psychological torture."

The actor, who had a minor role in the 'Veronica Guerin' film, maintained he only became aware of the gravity of the situation on Saturday when detectives claimed a judge was on his way from the city to level a charge.

At this point Mr Behan said he insisted on a lawyer and refused to speak further. He was released without charge later on Saturday.

Seizure

The local investigating magistrate had ordered the seizure of Mr Behan's car, knife and house for forensic examination but, by yesterday afternoon, Mr Behan was allowed back in his house and his car was returned to him.

Mr Behan, whose father is former IRA chief-of-staff Cathal Goulding, said his knife wound was the result of an accident when he was unpacking a large container of belongings.

"If I had stabbed someone to death I would hardly go to the hospital with a knife wound half-an- hour later, would I?" he asked.

He is considering bringing legal proceedings against the investigators involved but said he has no plans to leave Arcidosso where he has lived on and off for the last two years.

"It's a bit like Dublin in the old days when everyone was friendlier and people from all walks of life drank together in the bars.

"I love it here and I won't leave because of this," he said.

Meanwhile, a daughter of the murdered woman has said that her mother did not know Mr Behan, and she believes that the killer was someone her mother knew.

Shopping

"I think that my mother came back from shopping and saw and recognised the burglar who killed her," Monica Francescatti said yesterday.

"My mum didn't know that man [Mr Behan].

"She didn't speak about him and I've never see him."

Police in the small town of Arcidosso are collecting witness statements as they try to retrace the last few hours of Mrs Abate's life in a bid to find clues to her death.

The woman, a retired furrier, was buried yesterday after a service attended by all of the town's 300 residents.

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