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Italian hostage released by Maoists

Bhubaneswar(PTI): Italian hostage Paolo Bosusco was released by the Maoists today, 29 days after he was abducted along with his countryman Claudio Colangelo by the Naxals in Odisha’s Kandhamal district.

Bhubaneswar: Italian hostage Paolo Bosusco (R) waves to media at a Guest House in Bhubaneswar after he was freed by Maoists on Thursday. Italian Ambassador to India Giacomo Sanfelice di Monteforte is also seen. PTIBosusco (54) was handed over by the Maoists to their mediator Dandapani Mohanty and some journalists in the forest of tribal-dominated Kandhamal district bordering Gajapati and Ganjam, official sources said.

Bosusco, a Puri-based Italian tour operator, had been abducted along with 61-year-old tourist Colangelo from his country on March 14 while trekking in the forests of Daringbadi area in Kandhamal district.

The Italian national was brought to the state capital in the company of mediapersons and Mohanty who, along with B D Sharma, negotiated with three Odisha government representatives for his release.

Saying that he loves Odisha very much, Bosusco told reporters, “I am happy being a free man now. I am tired and need some rest.”

His release came two days after top Maoist leader of Odisha State Organising Committee (OSOC) Sabyasachi Panda’s wife Subhashree Panda alias Mili Panda was released from jail following her acquittal by a Gunupur court in an encounter case of 2004.

Subhashree was one of the seven persons whose release the Maoists had demanded as one of the conditions to set free the Italian, who had spent the last 19 years in Puri running a travel agency.

The state government had also agreed to release five persons, including Subhashree, in order to secure the freedom of Bosusco unharmed and in good health.

The Italian’s release came five days after the state government representatives, led by Home Secretary U N Behera and the two Maoist-named mediators, signed a joint statement on April 7 on fulfilment of the 13-point charter of demands placed by the abductors.

His compatriot Colangelo had been released by the Maoists on March 25 as a “goodwill gesture”, while Bosusco was not freed by the ultras who wanted their demands to be fulfilled by the Odisha government.

Even after signing of the joint statement, Bosusco’s release was then delayed apparently due to inability of the Maoist mediators to send the document to Sabyasachi Panda.

Italian Ambassador Giacomo Sanfelice di Monteforte, along with the country’s Consul-General, met Bosusco shortly after he was brought to the state guest house here.
Describing his nearly month-long stay in the captivity of the Maoists as an “unforgettable” experience, Bosusco said he was treated well by his captors.
“I am in good health. They did not cause any harm. I will never forget this experience in my life time,” he said.

Bosusco’s release came a day after Sabyasachi Panda in an audio message had welcomed the state government’s decision to release some rebels from jails, giving the first indication that an early resolution of the Italian hostage crisis was in the offing.
He had said that though he was yet to receive a copy of the joint statement, he had come to know of its contents from reliable sources.

Panda’s wife Subhashree had also underlined the need for release of the Italian national without further delay.

“Since the issues raised by Panda in his pamphlet have been addressed in the chief minister’s statements in the Assembly and the joint statement of government representatives and two mediators, he should release Bosusco immediately,” the Home Secretary had said yesterday.

“The mediators nominated by the Maoists holding Bosusco hostage have also conveyed this message to Sabyasachi Panda,” Behera had said.

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