Palermo: The skeleton exhumed from the tomb of one of Italy`s most legendary bandits, Salvatore Giuliano, is that of a person of shorter stature than Giuliano, said sources close to the coroner.
Giuliano gained fame among his fellow Sicilians during World War II when he led a group of bandits in stealing money for food and weapons, and became known as a kind of Robin Hood figure for allegedly aiding the poor with the takings from his banditry. He also belonged to a separatist movement.
According to members of his family and witnesses, Giuliano was at least 1.80 metres tall while the skeleton belongs to someone between 1.60-1.70 metres, the sources said.
Coroner Livio Milone has ordered police to "immediately check documents that record Salvatore Giuliano`s exact height", according to the sources.
On Oct 28, investigators removed the human remains from Giuliano`s tomb in Montelepre near Palermo to gather evidence that will either fuel or put to rest the 60-year-old suspicion that the body inside doesn`t match the name on the sarcophagus.
Palermo prosecutors hope DNA tests can reveal if the body is Giuliano`s. If it is not, this will support claims by some historians and coroners that he managed to escape to the US, possibly with the help of the mafia.
Gaspare Pisciotta, a close Giuliano associate and friend claimed he shot his 27-year-old companion dead in his sleep July 5, 1950, contradicting the official version that he was killed by a paramilitary police captain in the western Sicilian town of Castelvetrano.
The classic 1962 film "Salvatore Giuliano" by director Francesco Rosi tells a version of his life in the neo-realist quasi-documentary style that uses many non-actors to tell the tale on screen.