A court in Italy jailed a man for 19 years yesterday for his part in two satanic ritual killings which were committed when he was a minor.
Mario Maccione, a member of the Beasts of Satan heavy metal group, was 17 when he helped murder a young couple whose bodies were found in woods outside Milan in January 1998.
“This isn’t justice,” said Lina Marino, the mother of one of the victims, sobbing after Maccione was convicted. She demanded a tougher sentence.
Another suspect, Massimiliano Magni, was acquitted yesterday for lack of evidence.
The case has gripped Italy ever since prosecutors claimed the suspects belonged to an occult sect which carried out the killings in a drug-fuelled satanic ritual.
Chiaro Marino, 19, and Fabio Tollis, 16, her boyfriend, were found last year buried next to each other. They had been strangled, tied up and buried in woods.
The killings came to light last year when the body of 27-year-old Mariangela Pezzotta was found in a chalet near the small town of Mezzana, Lombardy. She had been shot in the face.
Her ex-boyfriend, Andrea Volpe, confessed to her murder and then, after police found his diaries, began telling them about the activities of his friends. Volpe said he had been ordered to kill.
Shortly afterwards, police recovered the bodies of the young couple, who had mysteriously disappeared during a night out.
Volpe, considered the mastermind, was jailed for 30 years in February while another suspect, Pietro Guerrieri, received a 16-year sentence. Five other members of the circolo maladetti (circle of evil) will be tried in June.
Police have since identified other deaths which may be connected to the Beasts of Satan. Within a few years 11 unexplained deaths have occurred, all within a few miles of each other, which may turn out to be murder or suicide.
Detectives believe some of the young people could have been encouraged to kill themselves as part of the satanic rite.
Among the deaths being investigated, and which are the subject of a book that has just been published in Italy, are a young man who drove his car the wrong way round a roundabout at speed and ended up under the wheels of a truck, another youth found hanged from a light fitting, another whose throat was cut, one who received fatal injuries after being beaten with an iron bar and another who set himself on fire.
A 20-year-old named as Gianni C was found dead in 1989 tied to a tree as if he had been part of a ritual sacrifice.
Police say their inquiries into the deaths are continuing, and while not all of them may end up being linked to the Beasts of Satan, they believe there are more gruesome stories to uncover.
Yesterday’s verdict came amid growing concern in Italy that young people are turning to satanism and the occult. In February, a Vatican-recognised university opened a two-month course on diabolical possession and exorcism.