Cops talk out post office hostage taker

'Ndrangheta convict had held four people in Reggio Emilia

(ANSA) - Bologna, November 5 - Police on Monday ended a post office siege in Reggio Emilia by talking down the hostage taker, an 'Ndrangheta Calabrian mafia convict.
    They took him out after he let them in to the premises following negotiations.
    Shortly before the cops were allowed in, the man, Francesco Amato, had let two of his four hostages go.
    When they reappeared with Amato, the police were given a round of applause by the people present at the scene.
    "He opened the door, let the hostages out and then handed himself over to us," said Reggio Emilia provincial Carabinieri commander, Colonel Cristiano Desideri.
    The siege had lasted eight hours. The four women who had been taken hostage were said to be unharmed.
    Asked what had persuaded Amato to give in, Desideri said "time, patience and dialogue with the negotiators, who made him understand that he could not get what he wanted", that is a meeting with Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.
    Initially there were five hostages, but a 54-year-old cashier was let go almost immediately after she had a bad turn and was treated by an emergency medical team.
    Amato was convicted last week in the sprawling 'Aemilia' trial on 'Ndrangheta Calabrian mafia infiltration in the Emilia region. He holed up in the post office early on Monday, taking staff hostage with a knife, local sources said.
    Amato allowed all the customers out of the branch before taking hostage five female staff including the woman director.
    Police blocked roads and started negotiating, sources told reporters.
    After about an hour one of the five hostages, the cashier, was let out of the branch. She fainted as soon as she got out and was treated by an emergency medical team Amato had been on the run since last week's conclusion of the 'Aemilia' trial which handed down 118 sentences totalling over 1,200 years in jail, including the father of former soccer player Vincenzo Iaquinta, who got 19 years.
    Iaquinta himself got two years for weapons possession but was cleared of mafia charges.
    Amato also got 19 years and has been on the run since the sentence, police said.
    Entering the post office, he reportedly said "I'm the one who got 19 years in Aemilia".
    He then allegedly threatened those present, saying "I'm going to kill you all".
    He was reportedly brandishing a kitchen knife.
    If negotiations with Amato had proved fruitless, police said they would have sent in special forces.