Odisha: Italian hostage freed by Maoists

Bosusco was handed over by the Maoists to their mediator Dandapani Mohanty and some journalists in the forest of tribal-dominated Kandhamal district.

Updated: Apr 12, 2012, 21:05 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

Cuttack: The Italian national Bosusco Paolo held hostage by the Maoists for the last 29 days was freed on Wednesday night, sources said.

Bosusco (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.

Paolo had been kidnapped on March 14 with another Italian, Claudio Colangelo, from a forested area of Kandhamal district. Colangelo was released some time back.

Pleased with Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s efforts for safe release of the Italian national, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said, “I appreciate Naveen Patnaik`s efforts." He also congratulated the chief minister.

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.

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 tired and need some rest`

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."

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.

His release came two days after a court acquitted Sabyasachi Panda’s wife Subhashree Das of involvement in a police-Maoist gunbattle in 2003. She was one of those whose release had been sought by the Maoists.

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.

However, the fate of Biju Janata Dal legislator Jhina Hikaka who has been in the captivity of another group of rebels since March 24 remains uncertain as the rebels refused to release him unless their demands were met.

Jagabandhu, the spokesperson of the group, said in a statement written in Telugu and sent to reporters here Wednesday: "We will not release Hikaka unless the government releases all the 30 persons we demanded."

While Paolo was abducted by the Odisha unit of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) from Kandhamal district, Hikaka was kidnapped by the Andhra-Odisha border special zonal committee from Koraput district.