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Vallanzasca's wife freed in Camorra probe

'No evidence' against partner of notorious Milan gangster

31 December, 10:33
Vallanzasca's wife freed in Camorra probe (ANSA) - Rome, December 31 - The wife of one of Italy's most notorious gangsters, jailed former Milanese underworld boss Renato Vallanzasca, was released from a Lombardy jail Monday night after a Naples court ruled there was no evidence of wrongdoing by her in a probe into protection rackets run by the Neapolitan Camorra mafia.

Antonella D'Agostino was one of 18 people arrested across Italy December 9 on suspicion she was helping her husband work with the Camorra from jail.

The Naples detention-reassessment court said there was "no evidence of (D'Agostino) engaging in the activities suspected by investigators".

Police say Vallanzasca, who is on day release while serving four consecutive life sentences for racketeering and murder, was planning to set up a mozzarella business in Milan with the Camorra.

The 63-year-old Vallanzasca, once romanticised for his prison breaks and life on the run and nicknamed 'Il Bel Rene' (Handsome Rene'), became a rebel figure for some in the politically turbulent 1970s. A film accused of glamourising him sparked debate at the 2010 Venice Film Festival, with director Michele Placido criticised for a sympathetic portrait of a ruthless criminal who committed seven murders, three kidnappings and scores of armed robberies.

Placido was slammed for, among other things, casting heartthrob actor Kim Rossi Stuart in the lead role, making Vallanzasca seem a charming, seductive figure and failing to consult victims' families during production.

The row escalated when Placido replied that Vallanzasca had an "ethic to his evil", that if he appeared seductive in the film it was because the work was true to life and that "there are people in parliament who have done worse".

Vallanzasca was first sent to jail in 1972 but he escaped several times and spent long spells out as a fugitive.

He orchestrated many prison riots during his time inside.

He appeared to have mellowed with age and got permission to leave custody during the day to work in a leather workshop.