Italian who escaped after eight-month captivity in Libya praises persistence with nail

AP

An Italian construction worker who endured nearly eight months in captivity in Libya with three co-workers — suffering hunger, thirst and beatings — told reporters Monday that he escaped by using a nail to slowly loosen the lock from the hardwood door.

“Let’s say, I worked a lot on that door. With a nail, I understood that you can do many things,” Filippo Calcagno told reporters outside his home in Piazza Armerina, Sicily, where he arrived Sunday night after the escape on Friday. “Slowly, slowly, I weakened” part of the fixture.

Calcagno said that, at that point, he called Gino Pollicardo, who had remained with him after the other two Italians had been taken away some days earlier, for help kicking down the door. Calcagno said they were lucky to find a second door to the outside unlocked, and while they worried “another group would come out and take us,” they managed to get to the street and find police.

The four were abducted in July and held together until March 1, when their captors indicated a deal had been made for their release and the other two were taken away. They were given no clear explanation as to why they were split up, and Calcagno and Pollicardo only learned after returning to Italy on Sunday that the others had been killed. Their bodies remain in Libya.

Both Calcagno and Pollicardi — who spoke with reporters near his home in Liguria — said that they did not know the affiliation of their captors, both referring to them as “criminals.”

Calcagno said they were beaten during their captivity and that their kidnappers often withheld food, apparently when negotiations for their release were not going well. He said he was unaware if a ransom was paid.

During their captivity, “we spoke of everything, of what we thought we would do when we came back,” Calcagno said.

Pollicardo said he was in OK shape physically, but that “psychologically it will be more difficult.”

The four Italians were working for the Italian construction company Bonatti when they were kidnapped near an industrial complex owned by energy giant Eni in the western Libyan city of Mellitah. They were last held in the contested western city of Sabratha, the scene of heavy clashes recently as Islamic State militants have sought to take over the city.