Page last updated at 13:12 GMT, Wednesday, 1 February 2006

Italy jails five Satanic killers

Elisabetta Ballarin
Convicted: Elisabetta Ballarin was a girlfriend of one of the band leaders

Four members of a so-called Satanic sect are starting long prison sentences in Italy for their part in three brutal, ritual murders.

Nicola Sapone, 27, one of the leaders of the Beasts of Satan rock group and one of the suspected masterminds of the killings, was given a life sentence.

The three others were jailed for between 24 and 26 years.

Their victims were a woman shot and buried alive in 2004 and a teenage couple murdered in 1998.

The case has shocked Italy - a devoutly Roman Catholic country that has become increasingly concerned about the spread of Satanic cults.

You're going to pay, you're a murderer, 26 years is too little
Mother of victim Chiara Marino

Sapone's Beasts of Satan colleagues jailed on Tuesday were Paolo Leoni, Marco Zampollo, Eros Monterosso and Elisabetta Ballarin.

Ballarin, 19, was the former girlfriend of Andrea Volpe - a band leader jailed for 30 years last year for his role in the deaths.

They were convicted of the sacrificial stabbing and beating of fellow band members Fabio Tollis, 16, and Chiara Marino, 19, in 1998, and the shooting of 27-year-old Mariangela Pezzotta in 2004.


She had also been Volpe's girlfriend. The bodies of the young couple were only found in woods northeast of Milan after Mariangela's body was found in 2004.

After the sentences were handed down, Chiara Marino's mother Lina shouted: "Leoni, you're going to pay, you're a murderer, 26 years is too little."

Mariangela Pezzotta's father told the AP news agency: "Justice has triumphed."

Another member of the group, Pietro Guerrieri, received a 16-year term last year, while a third man was acquitted

The increasing concern about the influence of cults led to a Roman Catholic college in Rome offering a specialised course in Satanism and exorcism for priests and seminarians.

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