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ITALY

French police snare ‘Valentine’s Day Monster’

An Italian serial killer nicknamed the "Valentine's Day monster", whose escape from prison in Genoa this week triggered a huge manhunt, was caught Friday on the French Riviera, police said.

French police snare 'Valentine's Day Monster'
French police snared an Italian serial kiler on Friday on the Riviera coast. Photo: AFP

Bartolomeo Gagliano went on a murder spree in the 1980s, killing two prostitutes and a transvestite and seriously injuring another sex worker, for which he served years in a criminal psychiatric ward.

At the time of his escape on Wednesday, he had been serving time in prison in the northwestern Italian town of Genoa for a hold-up.

French police said he was detained on Friday afternoon in the southeastern French city of Menton after Italian authorities launched a manhunt for a man they described as "very dangerous" and "possibly armed".

Gagliano was spotted in Ventimiglia, an Italian border town, and fled on the motorway to France in a stolen vehicle.

Police found the parked car in Menton, and detained him as he was heading back to the vehicle.

Gagliano escaped while on temporary leave from prison to visit his mother – leave he had been granted for good behaviour. 

Italian media gave him the nickname of "Valentine's Day monster" because he killed the transvestite on the day that celebrates love.

According to Italy's ANSA news agency, Gagliano had also been convicted for robbery, drugs and weapons possession, aggression and extortion.

He had already escaped from a psychiatric hospital in northern Italy in 1990, and a month later shot his girlfriend in the chin and fled the scene, the agency said.

She was found lying nude on a bed, with underwear at her neck to try to stop the bleeding, surrounded by pornographic material, it added. Gagliano later returned to the hospital.

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ITALY

Italy should ‘take back’ the Mona Lisa from France: Salvini

The Mona Lisa, the world's most famous painting, should be brought back home to Italy from France, Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said on Wednesday, before clarifying he was joking.

Italy should 'take back' the Mona Lisa from France: Salvini
Photo: Wikicommons
His comments come as French-Italian relations have nosedived following a series of rows over illegal immigration, domestic policies and personal attacks directed at French President Emmanuel Macron. 
   
“I announce that we're working with the French ambassador to take back the Mona Lisa,” Salvini said at a press conference to announce events commemorating 500 years since the death of the artist and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci.
   
“It would be more convenient for everyone who wants to see her up close,” said Salvini, who is also interior minister.
   
“Joking apart, obviously, we don't need more international crises.” 
 
Photo: AFP
   
Da Vinci was born in the Medici-ruled Republic of Florence in 1452 but died in France in 1519.
   
Salvini said he would visit Da Vinci's Last Supper fresco in Milan before May 2nd, the date of the Renaissance polymath's death.
   
“As for the Mona Lisa, as long as she is in Paris, that will take a bit longer,” Salvini said.
   
The painting, whose mysterious smile has long captivated artists and admirers, draws millions of people to the Louvre museum in the French capital each year.
 
France and Italy's relationship has soured since Salvini and populist leader Luigi Di Maio formed a government in June. The two governments have clashed on a variety of issues, including the Lyon-Turin train line, migrants and the loan of art works for this year's Da Vinci events. France in February recalled its ambassador after a series of “outrageous” statements by Italian officials.
   
On Wednesday the Italian government presented a wide-ranging schedule for celebrations to mark da Vinci's death over the next year.
   
“It's a holiday that will last all year and it's an opportunity for Italy to celebrate a genius, a genius that is ours, universally appreciated, so much so that the celebrations will take place around the world,” said Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
   
Dozens of events are planned until April 2020. A major exhibition dedicated to Da Vinci's scientific genius opened on Wednesday at the Scuderie del Quirinale palace in Rome, entitled “La scienza prima della scienza” ('science before science'). 
 

Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP
 
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