Boy free after kidnap ordeal
Sunday 12 July 1992
Italian justice officials denied press speculation that the boy's family had paid around one-third of a pounds 3m ransom demanded by the kidnappers. The gang had let Farouk go as 300 police closed in on their mountain hideout, the officials insisted.
But one of the country's most notorious convicted criminals, Graziano Mesina, 64 - dubbed 'The Scarlet Rose' - told reporters he had helped free the Canadian-born son of an Arab Belgian hotelier, but did not explain his role.
The kidnappers had threatened to 'cut him (Farouk) up into little pieces, bit by bit' if his father, Ali Fateh Kassam, did not come up with the ransom. Mr Kassam's assets were said to have been frozen, in line with Italian law, to prevent him from dealing with the kidnappers.
Farouk was seized in his pyjamas from his home on Sardinia's Emerald Coast on 15 January. His father had promised him a Paris holiday in a message broadcast on Italian television, in which he called on his son to 'be strong and practise your multiplication tables'. Yesterday, he was able to honour that promise.
The Italian government was on the point of sending 4,000 crack commandos to the Mediterranean island in the hope of flushing out the kidnap gang and freeing the boy. A police raid on Tuesday night last week just missed capturing the gang, which had been moving Farouk from cave to cave.
Farouk's plight had gripped all of Italy. Millions of people last month hung white sheets over their balconies in protest against the abduction.
A note from the boy to an Italian magazine, in which he pleaded 'Help me, mummy', tugged at the heart-strings of a nation nearly numbed by dozens of child kidnappings since the war. On Easter Day, Farouk's mother made an emotional appeal in her local church for Sardinians to end their traditional code of silence over Mafia activities.
Mesina, in and out of jail for the past half century, was mysteriously allowed out of detention in northern Italy last week and surfaced in Sardinia, ostensibly on humanitarian parole to visit his sister.
'It's true. I was involved,' he told reporters. But he failed to explain whether his involvement had been merely at the mediation stage. 'I can't say any more. I'm surrounded by policemen,' he said.
The scourge of Sardinia in the post-war years, Mesina later won a certain cult status. He once kidnapped a child but, saying he was overwhelmed by remorse, freed him hours later with money to buy chocolate on the way home.
- 1 Sabrina Corgatelli: US hunting tourist posts picture of herself with dead giraffe after Cecil the lion outrage
- 2 Katie Hopkins reveals fear she will die during brain surgery to cure epilepsy
- 3 Edward Heath 'child sex abuse' allegation: Investigation to be held into Wiltshire police handling of alleged claim in the 1990s
- 4 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
- 5 Tom Cruise: Reporters banned from asking actor about Scientology
Katie Hopkins reveals fear she will die during brain surgery to cure epilepsy
Sabrina Corgatelli: US hunting tourist posts picture of herself with dead giraffe after Cecil the lion outrage
'Gene drive': Scientists sound alarm over supercharged GM organisms which could spread in the wild and cause environmental disasters
Edward Heath 'child sex abuse' allegation: Investigation to be held into Wiltshire police handling of alleged claim in the 1990s
Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Chris Leslie: Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity agenda will harm the poor, says Labour shadow Chancellor
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Landlords renting properties to illegal immigrants to face up to five years in prison
Calais crisis: The seven claims made about the migrants - and the reality
£20k plus sales linked bonus. : Guru Careers: We are seeking a Copywriter to j...
£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has bec...
Up to £26k DOE: Guru Careers: A Junior / Mid-Level 3D Creative Designer is nee...
£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You'll be joining a truly talen...